Today, news really does travel fast. The power of social media has rapidly increased our access to current events and everything in between. For example, the recent killing of Cecil the Lion in Zimbabwe by an American dentist went from zero to viral in less than 24 hours via social media. On Facebook alone, articles were re-posted, commented, and shared about how the hunter, Walter Palmer, paid over $50,000 to hunt a lion that was a beloved figure of Hwange Park. The news infuriated many people to the point where Palmer’s business Yelp page, his Facebook page, and even his personal voicemail were flooded with angry comments, eventually forcing him to shut down his dental office.
Social media has gone beyond just another pathway to access news—in many ways it now has the power to make the news. In the wake of the Cecil the Lion story and the tidal wave of responses that followed, it is hard to image that this would have gotten the same level of attention if these social platforms had not existed. More and more people now use social media as their core source for current events. Breaking news is now shared via the social community faster than traditional news outlets can report on it. According to a 2013 PEW Research Study, 64% US adults are on Facebook regularly, with 30% of this audience also getting their news directly from the platform.