Both the Internet and technological innovations have transformed social media from an entertaining add-on to an integral part of many people’s daily lives, digital platforms make the dissemination and reception of information an active concept, and more and more people communicate on the Internet, expanding the connection between online participation and society (Gillespie, 2018). However, the rise of any popular culture must face its advantages and disadvantages. With the help of digital platforms, the globalized way of information dissemination has made communication efficient and convenient, but at the same time, the bad effects are also occurring in various forms under the digital platform, including the use of the Internet for personal attacks, harassment, and spreading fake news, etc. (Kao, 2021). In this essay, we will focus on the two problems of cyberbullying and fake news due to information dissemination and analyze who should stop them and how to stop them based on these phenomena.
What problems are caused by the spread of undesirable content?
The movement of the digital platform is complex, information is disseminated in a variety of ways, and this has led to situations of cyberbullying.Cyberbullying affects people of all ages, and among these, the impact on young people is the most pronounced, (Zhu et al., 2021). Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that one in five adolescents has experienced at least one type of cyberbullying, and seven out of ten reports being affected by cyberbullying, which also causes emotional or psychological problems (Stripe, 2020). The message on digital platforms is public, also available in an anonymous form, which makes it easier for bullies to become mean or hurtful, while victims will experience a range of negative emotions such as sadness, anger, fear, and embarrassment after being bullied, and most cyberbullying occurs among classmates, so they also feel isolated and alone, which can later trigger psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression.
ReachOut Parents: Zoe’s bullying story BY ReachOut Australia. All rights Retrieved from:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9oc_A7tQcU
It was a girl named Zoe who was cyberbullied after breaking up with her boyfriend, they posted false information about her on Facebook and other social media platforms and sent messages to harass her, since then Zoe became mentally broken and depressed, Obviously, Zoe also had a huge negative emotion in the early stage of cyberbullying, she was so devastated that she thought she should end her life, fortunately, Zoe eventually chose to seek help from her mother and was able to overcome the negative effects of cyberbullying with the intervention of her school and psychologist. But the fact that only about one in ten young people tell their parents or trusted adults about cyberbullying, that they are too ashamed to talk about what they are going through and that they don’t believe that anyone can really “save” them from it, this will lead serious consequences.
At the same time, the free dissemination of information on digital platforms has led to the publication and proliferation of fake news, which affects people’s social values and may even change the truth (Olan et al., 2022). Person usually not good at identifying false news and rarely examines the truth of things, they are also more inclined to share bad news, it is known from classical anthropology that misinformation spreads when people are confronted with threats over which they have little control, under uncertain conditions, people seek security and balance of order and are more inclined to spread the news to compensate for the discomfort of lack of control (Nyilasy, 2020).
Infodemic: Coronavirus and the fake news pandemic BY nature video. All rights Retrieved from:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT2m3kljcSU
As mentioned in the video, Facebook’s fake news is a big problem facing society nowadays, the video mentions fake news about Ebola, which some belief was a deliberate attack, and the spread of the related fake news even led to the murder of local health care workers simply because they read the relevant news on the digital platform, it has brainwashed them, which affects their mindset and changes their views, thus showing that the brainwashing power of social media is powerful. Fake news may create social unrest, dilute the credibility of the government, bring difficulties to the public’s cognitive judgment, and trigger a crisis of reversal of online public opinion. Fake news, regardless of the purpose of dissemination, equally poses challenges and dangers to both the public and society.
Who is responsible for this and what should be done to stop bad content from being posted?
Social media platforms
As digital platforms cover a large area of people’s daily lives, the responsibility and regulation of information dissemination by platforms have also become a focus of attention. First, platforms have a duty and responsibility to maintain the dissemination of information, like the UK’s Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) Committee report states that “social media companies cannot hide behind a ‘platform’ and insist that they have no responsibility to regulate the content of their sites ” (Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, 2019).
For multiple levels, the following points are summarized as ways for digital platforms, used to maintain the dissemination of information.
- develop a new model
- adapt the user network real-name system
- Create a database to identify and filter sensitive terms
- Intelligent system and manual supervision at the same time
Although there is already a traditional censorship system for information dissemination on digital platforms, there is still a need to develop a new model that considers multiple overlapping forms of governance and the latest social trends to respond to rapidly evolving technological innovations (Andrew, 2011). The anonymity function of the digital platform allows users to express their opinions freely but also contributes to the phenomenon of cyberbullying, in this regard, the platform can adapt the user network real-name system, take China as an example, there are already some social media to display their province when users express opinions, this can effectively organize the emergence of some brainless or anti-social speech, but also can better trace the user’s IP address and pursue the relevant responsibility, the platform can also create a database to identify and filter out sensitive terms while stopping the spread of undesirable information under the co-monitoring of platform staff (Gillespie, 2018). As economist David McAdams argues, censorship, fact-checking and education are the only tools to combat misinformation (2011).
Social media users
In the face of the challenges posed by the dissemination of information on digital platforms, in addition to the above-mentioned regulation of online platforms, users themselves should also exercise self-regulation. From the perspective of society, the public, as recipients of information, are also disseminators of information, and people need to improve their information literacy and actively participate in the self-regulation of information dissemination (Xie et al., 2021). As mentioned in the above examples related to cyberbullying, a large percentage of adolescents are involved, and they are currently at the stage of cognitive development where their behaviour may be radical in the face of global technology, meanwhile, society should teach them how to shape the correct attitude and use digital platforms wisely, carry out early prevention efforts to help them understand the digital platform, the potential risks of spreading information online and the consequences they need to face if they have incorrect actions (Kao, 2021). And for the spread of fake news, the public needs to improve the ability to identify information, in the face of overwhelming information, should know how to screen, and look for authoritative platforms or articles to identify the truth and rational treatment of bad information in the network media. At the same time, the public should raise their legal awareness, actively fulfil their social responsibility, play a supervisory role, work together to create a harmonious and healthy online media environment, and reduce the chances of online media chaos (Xie et al., 2021).
In short, digital platforms provide good channels for people to show themselves, but this platform is still complex and seductive. How to effectively stop and solve the bad effects of information dissemination, first, the platform itself has the obligation and responsibility to maintain the security of network information and innovate based on the original information review to ensure a positive network environment. For online users, should understand the digital platform and conduct self-regulation, so that we “harness” the platform, rather than being controlled by the platform. Our goal is to work together to maintain a harmonious network environment.
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Feng, C. (2022, April 17). Chinese social platforms to display user locations based on IP addresses. South China Morning Post. https://www.scmp.com/tech/big-tech/article/3174487/chinese-social-media-display-user-locations-based-ip-address
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Kao, K. (2021, March 30). Social media addiction linked to cyberbullying. UGA Today. https://news.uga.edu/social-media-addiction-linked-to-cyberbullying/
Nyilasy, G. (2020). Fake News in the Age of COVID-19. Faculty of Business and Economics. https://fbe.unimelb.edu.au/newsroom/fake-news-in-the-age-of-covid-19
Olan, Jayawickrama, Arakpogun, Suklan, & Liu. (2022). Fake news on Social Media: The Impact on Society. Information Systems Frontiers, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10796-022-10242-z
Stripe, N. (2020, November 16). Online bullying in England and Wales. Office for national statistics. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/crimeandjustice/bulletins/onlinebullyinginenglandandwales/yearendingmarch2020
UK House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, “Disinformation and ‘fake news’: Final Report,” February 14, 2019. Unclassified. (n.d.). National Security Archive. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/document/18360-national-security-archive-uk-house-commons
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