MIT Technology Review has published an article by Jennifer Neda John, a research assistant at the Stanford Internet Observatory, whose findings point out that the Zs tend to prioritize identity over objectivity when it comes to the content they access on social media. When they are offline, they are much more likely to rely on sources that have established real credibility based on relationships and experience. But when they are online, they relate more strongly to those who post who seem to be a lot like them. In a word, “influencers.”
Offline, when deciding whose claims should be trusted and whose should be ignored or doubted, teenagers are likely to draw on the context that their communities provide. Social connections and individual reputations developed through years of shared experiences inform which family members, friends, and classmates teenagers rely on to form their opinions and receive updates on events. In this setting, a community’s collective knowledge about whom to trust on which topics contributes more to credibility than the identity of the person making a claim, even if that identity is one the young person shares.
Social media, however, promotes credibility based on identity rather than community. And when trust is built on identity, authority shifts to influencers. Thanks to looking and sounding like their followers, influencers become trusted messengers on topics in which they have no expertise.
Here is the link to the article: