Since the start of the spread of COVID-19, people have been tuning into local broadcast stations for the latest updates on the pandemic, but many are getting often unreliable information from social media, says Dom Caristi, a telecommunications professor at Ball State University.

He believes the latest Digital News Report from Reuters Institute shows these promising – and troubling – trends.

Certainly, an informed citizenry is important to a democracy. With the decline of local newspapers, maybe the public has begun to look to television for more local news. But it’s at least a little concerning that more Americans rely on social media for news than radio and print sources combined.

He pointed out that 47 percent of respondents said they relied on social media for news, while only 21 percent cited radio and 16 percent cited print sources.

“The reason for the concern is that social media is not a news organization. It only passes along anything that others choose to share, without any verification or gatekeeping,” Caristi said. “We’ve seen the result of this on a regular basis, leading to increased confusion.”