社交媒体的普及为绝大多数使用互联网的人提供了一条可以轻松快速地交流知识的途径，也为他们提供了一个平台，他们可以在平台上以更开放的方式表达自己的想法（吉莱斯皮，2017）。澳大利亚的新闻媒体一直在报道与互联网审查有关的各种话题，例如对在线儿童色情网络的调查、要求删除包含种族主义内容的网站以及需要对在线欺凌和骚扰进行更多控制（5 Current “互联网审查”问题：欺凌、歧视、骚扰和言论自由 | 澳大利亚人权委员会， nd)。
In August 2019, at least 31 people were killed in back-to-back attacks in two mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio (Thirty Dead in 13 Hours: US Reckons with Back-To-Back Mass Shootings, 2019). Because the gunman had previously posted severe hate propaganda online, the tragedy has revived discussion about the impact of social media on society. Governments everywhere are starting to wonder how to properly police the Internet and social media. This article offers recommendations for fostering the positive evolution of social media.
Social media focuses public opinion on breaking news and information
The rise of social media in recent years has been characterised by the growth of two crucial elements, the first of which is the real-time nature of the platform, and the second of which is its interactive capacity (Ariel & Avidar, 2015). The speed with which news events are reported is indicative of the real-time nature, and the interactivity is reflected in the fact that the breadth and depth of event dissemination exceed conventional information distribution methodologies and integrates different communication channels such as interpersonal, organisational, and mass communication so that breaking news can rapidly spread to audiences after it has been exposed and cause manufactured responses.
Social media: a vast and fragile cyberspace
Media platforms behemoths like Facebook and Twitter, with their enormous user bases, extensive user data, and many communication options, have in recent times mapped out a “new realm” of the Net. The popularity of social media platforms to prominence as a category of Internet apps is altering the norms of information sharing and has far-reaching consequences for how people live, work, learn, and think.
The production resources and techniques of news transmission have undergone significant shifts as the use of AI technology has progressed. Extremely rapid user-generated material via social media has eclipsed the conventional media’s adherence to ethical standards like objectivity, impartiality, and gatekeeper control, breaking the monopoly of news professionals over the flow of information. Algorithms and big data, two pillars of artificial intelligence, have made deep inroads into the area of news transmission, with intelligent recommendation algorithms as an integration of the two having a profound effect on the manner in which information is shared throughout media platforms (Adadi, 2021).
In this light, the digital revolution has resulted in a number of societal issues, as well as its rapid, convenient, and pervasive influence has become a “distribution centre” for the promotion and dissemination of violent thoughts, the publishing of fake news, the expanded of online rumours, instigation to internet violence, and other forms of aggregate data illegal online chaos, greatly disrupting national security, social objectives, and social stability (Gillespie, 2017). In this regard, nations and regions across the globe have increased their efforts to restrict social networks, primarily utilizing government policies to guide and strengthen legislative regulation and the use of proper means to regulate; their experience and techniques have provided me with numerous inspirations for encouraging the positive rise of online media. It is the responsibility of the government, the media, and the audience to actively react to the three parties in order to break the harmful influence of social media on trending news.
1. Government: Improve Internet regulation
According to the “gatekeeper” hypothesis proposed by Kurt Lewin, there are “gatekeepers” in the channel via which information is disseminated. These “gatekeepers” make choices on whether the material may enter the stream or if it will remain to flow in the stream (Shoemaker & Vos, 2009). For example, the Chinese government has strict monitoring of social media platforms, and users cannot search for many sensitive terms (de Kloet et al., 2019). In the online era, the government is in the position of a “gatekeeper” in the dissemination of online information. This reflects its gatekeeper position, and cyberspace regulation entails a set of rules and infrastructure designed to ensure the safe and secure growth of the Internet’s information services without compromising the public’s lawful rights and interests.
Nevertheless, just because the government plays a gatekeeper role in improving Internet governance does not imply that everyone should agree and that the “one-click delete” approach is the best way to handle the situation. It is vital to utilise internet platforms, particularly social media, to effectively steer public opinion in the right direction on pressing issues and to do so in a way that does not violate the law or infringe on the legitimate rights and interests of the people.
2. Media: Boost efficiency and standard
When some hot spots in society happen, social media outlets often break the story before more slow-moving news outlets. After much sharing and commenting on breaking news, a public opinion atmosphere has evolved on the web platform, while conventional media’s voice is somewhat muted. It is indisputable that many people and outlets have utilised social media to promote false information, which has negatively affected public opinion and culture.
To avoid the embarrassment of news events causing an uproar in media platforms, traditional media must not only grab up on social media in terms of speed and be proactive in speaking out, but also correctly speak out after responding to public opinion generated by the event, guarantee the quality and depth of info, take the initiative to guide the trend of public opinion, fulfil the agenda-setting feature of mainstream press, and avoid the embarrassing situation that news events cause an uproar in social media. In the meantime time, while reporting the news, both conventional and social platforms should follow the guidelines for media use established by the state and uphold the values of honesty and impartiality.
3. Audience: Improve cognition of the target audience
The “limited impact hypothesis” first appeared in Western academic communication studies around the middle of the twentieth century. Empirical studies form the backbone of this theory, which posits that a wide variety of factors—including people’s political, economic, cultural, and psychological leanings; the informational needs of target audiences; the influence of group norms and affiliations; the role of intermediary individuals; and so on—limit the potential for a mass communication campaign to have its desired effect (Asemah et al., 2022). In spite of the fact that the “limited effects theory” was attacked by a number of academics in the latter half of the 20th century, it needs to be looked at in a dialectical and objective manner (Asemah et al., 2022). In the act of communication, each of us individually is constrained by some other aspects, such as intellectual factors and cognitive levels. In the flood of information, people’s frailties in verifying the veracity of information and the Internet’s propensity for both genuine and misleading claims may leave audiences vulnerable to being duped.
Hence, in order to enhance their discernment of information in day-to-day life, information receivers should make use of proper methodologies. This is especially important when considering the vast amount of information that is now available. First, they may use the information they already know and the experience they already have to determine the legitimacy and usefulness of the information; for example, they can decide if there is rationality in the message by using their current knowledge and experience.
Ariel, Y., & Avidar, R. (2015). Information, Interactivity, and Social Media. Atlantic Journal of Communication, 23(1), 19–30. https://doi.org/10.1080/15456870.2015.972404
Adadi, A. (2021). A survey on data‐efficient algorithms in big data era. Journal of Big Data, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40537-021-00419-9
Asemah, E., Nwammuo, A., & Uwaoma, A. (2022). Theories and Models of Communication (Second Edition). https://www.researchgate.net/publication/364151814_Theories_and_Models_of_Communication_Second_Edition
de Kloet, J., Poell, T., Guohua, Z., & Yiu Fai, C. (2019). The platformization of Chinese Society: infrastructure, governance, and practice. Chinese Journal of Communication, 12(3), 249–256. https://doi.org/10.1080/17544750.2019.1644008
Gillespie, T. (2017). Governance by and through Platforms. In J. Burgess, A. Marwick & T. Poell (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Social Media (pp. 254-278), London: SAGE.
Shoemaker, P.J., & Vos, T. (2009). Gatekeeping Theory (1st ed.). Routledge. https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.sydney.edu.au/10.4324/9780203931653
Thirty dead in 13 hours: US reckons with back-to-back mass shootings. (2019, August 5). The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/04/mass-shootings-el-paso-texas-dayton-ohio
5 “网络审查”的当前问题：欺凌、歧视、骚扰和言论自由 | 澳大利亚人权委员会。 (nd)。Humanrights.gov.au. https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/5-current-issues-internet-censorship-bullying-discrimination-harassment-and-freedom