Most People Don’t Know Enough to Distrust BuzzFeed

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BuzzFeed gets a bad rap when it comes to journalism, and sometimes it’s well deserved. The site has been beefing up its staff of journalists and producing more longform content, but some of its tactics are still questionable, at best. However, what’s most interesting about the Pew report that spawned the “Nobody trusts BuzzFeed” comments are its observations about the filter bubble.

The report reads:

The study also suggests that in America today, it is virtually impossible to live in an ideological bubble. Most Americans rely on an array of outlets — with varying audience profiles — for political news. And many consistent conservatives and liberals hear dissenting political views in their everyday lives.

Also of note is the increasing rate at which political centrists encounter diverse news sources. “These U.S. adults see more of a mix of views in social media and are less likely to be aware of their friends’ political leanings” said the Pew report, which sounds a lot like a decrease in polarization.

The top ten news outlets show very little distrust across the board, and the list contains a lot of news sources that strive for neutral coverage. Indeed, sources such as CNN and the BBC, could also be decreasing polarization just by offering less hardline coverage.

When it comes to BuzzFeed though, the report makes an interesting point: not enough people have heard of it. “Outlets currently occupying more niche markets, such as Politico, the Economist or BuzzFeed… while they may elicit strong views in one direction, the share of respondents weighing in is relatively small.” So the BuzzFeed opinion data isn’t all that representative of mass public opinion.

It’s also clear that readers are often tripped up by their inability to discern between rumor and real news. They are frequently guilty of sharing without checking up on the source of information. Ultimately, that’s why it doesn’t matter that BuzzFeed isn’t a trusted source.

According to Daily Dot contributor Aaron Sankin, BuzzFeed is a sleeper in the industry. “BuzzFeed is able to be the most widely viewed publisher on the Internet while 90 percent of American Internet users don’t know enough about it to form an opinion,” he writes.

Lots of people see their content, and nobody even knows enough about them to form an opinion. Add to that the share-worthy nature of the content, and BuzzFeed will continue to rake in shares, regardless of public opinion.

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