At the start of 2020, Australia had a whopping 18 million social media users – an increase of 735 000 users (+4.3%) from April 2019. Below we take a look at 5 social media trends to take note of:
- Facebook is flatlining: In 2019, 89% of people in Australia used Facebook, slightly down from the previous year, when the figure stood at 91% (Sensis Yellow Social Media Report 2020). Engagement with Facebook is set to decline or remain flat for the foreseeable future (Mashable Australia, 2019). Reasons for people leaving or using Facebook less include increased distrust, increased discord and increased disinterest with the platform (Convince & Convert, 2020). Another reason is that image-based and video-based content is on the rise, with platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat & TikTok gaining users. In fact, TikTok has become the fastest growing social networking of all time.
- Deepfakes are here: The rise of deepfakes, or videos created using AI that can make it look like someone said or did something they have never done, has raised concerns over how they can be used to spread misinformation and damage reputations. Celebrities and politicians have been targeted by deepfake technology already. This form of technology can also be used to create ‘revenge porn’, which could damage the reputations of ordinary users. Users can, however, detect deepfakes by being aware of the fact that when a video generates new facial expressions, the new images don’t always match the exact positioning of the person’s head, the lighting conditions, or the distance to the camera. Deepfake videos can also result in doctored images having blurry borders and artificially smooth skin. Algorithms are now being developed to detect these in order to counteract deepfake technology (The Conversation, 2019).
- Influencer marketing is on the out: 63% of Australians are turned off by brands who pay social influencers, and only 14% follow the accounts of celebrities and bloggers.
- Social media is impacting our mental health: 31% of Australians say they spend too much time on social media. This is even more common among those aged 18-29 (49%) and 30-39 (37%). 9% of respondents said that they feel ‘anxious’ when unable to access their social media accounts, and 27% of people say they’ve seen others bullied or harassed on social media, and 16% say they have been targeted by such behaviour. Among those aged 18-29, 38% say they’ve witnessed bullying and harassment, and 29% say they’ve been targeted (Sensis Yellow Social Media Report 2020).
- Misinformation online is leading to distrust in the media: 35% of Australians have reacted to something on their feed that was actually ‘fake news’ (Sensis Yellow Social Media Report 2020). Misinformation, or ‘fake news’ exposure is linked to lower trust in the media (Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review, 2020).