You have likely seen reports in the media quoting social media posts and presenting for/against social media statistics as relevant need-to-know information.

I have significant concerns as to how helpful this is in making important decisions.

Here’s part of my reasoning:

Suppose 1 million people post on a subject and 65 percent agree with one opinion over another. That 65 percent means 650 thousand people. That’s sound like alot, right? However it may mean very little.

In the United States alone there are around 250 million people age 16 and older. 650 thousand represents about .2 % of the population. That’s all, .2.

Unless the media can somehow demonstrate that those original 650 thousand represent a diverse group of citizens (which they can’t), then those opinions prove nothing. Though reporting them as relevant could sway public opinion

So, rather than quoting social media and reporting on the statistics of the postings, maybe the job of the media is to investigate social media itself and report on what it may or may not actually represent.

Check out Democracy Can Be Saved! and the “KSEA Poster”