Evolution of News Sharing Platforms
Today, news-sharing platforms have transformed from mere information channels to pivotal entities in the digital commercial space. Historically, news sharing was mainly done through traditional media channels: newspapers, radio, and television, but the emergence of the internet introduced a disruptive element to this space, giving birth to news sharing platforms that redefined these mechanisms and changed the dynamics of information. As technology evolved, some platforms began to capitalize on the unique capabilities of the digital realm, for example, unworthy they utilized sensational and thought-provoking headlines to increase user engagement and sharing, thus expanding their reach and impact (Martin & Dwyer, 2019). This evolution has led to a dramatic change in user engagement and interaction. Internet news sharing platforms promote two-way user engagement. Customers are not just consumers of information, but also become contributors of content, sharing, commenting and even being able to create content. Platforms become spaces for dialogue, discussion, and debate, expanding the function of news sharing from mere information dissemination to community creation and interaction. In addition, the commerce of these platforms is intertwined with content creation and strategic communications. Profitability drivers have pushed platforms to explore a variety of commercialization avenues, from advertising to sponsored content, premium subscriptions, and data monetization. Thus, the evolution of news sharing platforms is not just technological, but is tied to shifts in economic models, user engagement strategies and content creation mechanisms. External entities and algorithms for content visibility and platform traffic also influence the evolution of news-sharing platforms. The decline in visits to Upworthy attributed to changes in Facebook’s newsfeed algorithms illustrates the vulnerability of such platforms to external digital ecosystems and emphasizes the importance of strategic adaptation in the development of news-sharing platforms (Martin & Dwyer, 2019).
Commercialization Strategies and Impacts
Commercialization has gradually seeped into news-sharing platforms, intertwining information content with profit-making strategies. Firstly, one of the cornerstone strategies for commercialization of news sharing platforms is the advertising revenue model. The platform will optimize content to attract and retain the attention of users and then monetize it. Separately, the content can be presented through banner ads, video ads, etc. For example, platforms use data analytics to curate personalized advertisements that bring in high click-through rates, thus increasing ad revenue (Ahmed& Abdulkareem, 2023). While personalized advertisement enhances user engagement, concerns regarding user privacy and data protection cannot be sidelined. The unauthorized sharing or potential mishandling of user data could compromise user privacy and trust. Second, sponsored content is another important commercialization strategy where platforms seamlessly integrate content sponsored by third-party entities with regular content to ensure user engagement. The inclusion of sponsored content, while financially profitable, has the potential to blur the line between real news and advertising. It introduces a potential bias whereby platform content may inadvertently favor the interests of sponsors, potentially distorting public discourse and undermining the credibility and neutrality of the platform. Finally, the subscription model is also being applied in some sharing platforms and will also be used as a commercialization strategy to provide subscribers with content and an ad-free experience. The impact of commercialization for news sharing platforms should not be underestimated. Firstly, commercialization will inevitably affect the quality and authenticity of content. User engagement and profitability can force platforms to priorities sensational, clickbait-heavy content on the front page over authentic and quality news, which can distort public discourse and information consumption. Second, commercial interests may also seep into platform algorithms, prioritizing content aligned with revenue generation and potentially introducing bias in content visibility and user access. As an example, Facebook’s algorithmic changes have significantly impacted the platform’s user traffic (Martin & Dwyer, 2019).
To commercialize news sharing platforms, there are various regulatory issues that need to be addressed. Firstly, regulating content and ensuring that it meets ethical and legal standards is essential to guarantee the authenticity and reliability of information disseminated through news sharing platforms. Regulatory frameworks can require platforms to implement mechanisms to ensure that they reduce errors, maintain content neutrality, and prevent the dissemination of content that incites violence, hatred, or discrimination. For example, the European Union has developed a Code of Practice on Disinformation, urging online platforms to adopt measures to tackle misinformation and ensure transparent communication (European Commission, 2020). Secondly, ensuring user data protection and privacy also falls under regulation. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation governs the way platforms process user data (European Parliament and Council, 2016). Platforms must ensure transparency in data use and implement strong data protection mechanisms to protect privacy and personal information. Third, regulators’ work also includes ensuring that fair competition in digital markets is essential to prevent market monopolization and protect consumer interests. In the United States, antitrust lawsuits against tech giants such as Google have highlighted the regulatory focus on preventing anti-competitive behavior and ensuring a diverse and competitive digital market landscape (U.S. Department of Justice, 2020). Finally, regulating intellectual property rights and ensuring that creators are properly recognized and compensated is key in the digital space. The Copyright Directive adopted by the EU requires platforms to implement mechanisms to prevent unauthorized sharing of content and to ensure that creators are paid for their work (European Parliament and Council, 2019).
Future Prospects and Challenges
News-sharing platforms on the Internet are shrouded in a complex web of commercialization, presenting a panorama of burgeoning prospects and daunting challenges. Firstly, the intertwining of news-sharing platforms with emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning shows new prospects for enhanced content creation, management, and dissemination. Artificial intelligence and machine learning promise to provide a well-developed set of algorithms for personalizing the user experience, with some promise of mitigating issues related to misinformation and content authenticity. The Washington Post, for example, uses AI to create content and assist journalists in producing news through its technology Heliograf. The AI will focus on the scores and medal counts in the record, primarily the facts associated with the data, thus freeing up human journalists to work on more complex stories (Caughill, 2016). Broader avenues of collaboration have expanded into new areas for news-sharing platforms. Apple News, for example, has explored various avenues for profitability and collaboration. Through its subscription service, Apple News+, it partners with publishers to provide subscribers with access to a variety of magazines and news outlets, giving them access to high-quality content across a range of sectors. Not only does this diversify Apple’s revenue streams, but it also provides publishers with a broader audience, reflecting a mutually beneficial alliance that enhances content diversity and economic viability (Apple Inc., n.d.). Conversely, the opposite is true, and the challenges are extraordinarily daunting. In an era of misinformation and deep fakery, maintaining the authenticity and credibility of content has become a huge challenge. Ensuring that the information disseminated is accurate, unbiased, and verifiable requires the implementation of robust fact-checking mechanisms, advanced validation techniques and rigorous content review processes. Secondly, traversing the complex maze of global regulatory frameworks and ethical considerations also poses a significant challenge. From adhering to data protection regulations in different regions to ensuring that content complies with different legal and ethical norms, platforms need to be careful to ensure compliance while preserving user interests and platform functionality. For example, TikTok faces significant regulatory challenges, from facing bans in India over data privacy issues to navigating through the complex regulatory framework in the United States, all of which represent complex challenges for TikTok in complying with global regulations while maintaining functionality and user trust (Bhuiyan, 2023).
The commercialization of Internet news sharing platforms reveals the intricate relationship between information dissemination, user engagement, and profitability. As platforms evolve, navigating the commercial landscape requires adopting a judicious balance between profitability and adherence to ethical, legal, and social norms. The future trajectory of news-sharing platforms in the digital commercial space will inevitably depend on their ability to intertwine commercial success with ethical integrity and legal regulations.
Apple Inc. (n.d.). News Partner Program. Apple Developer. https://developer.apple.com/apple-news/program/
Ahmed, A., & Abdulkareem, A. M. (2023). Big Data Analytics in the Entertainment Industry: Audience Behavior Analysis, Content Recommendation, and Revenue Maximization. Reviews of Contemporary Business Analytics, 6(1), 88–102. Retrieved from https://researchberg.com/index.php/rcba/article/view/142
Bhuiyan, J. (2023, July 21). TikTok has become a global giant. The US is threatening to rein it in. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/oct/30/tiktok-regulation-data-privacy-china
Caughill, P. (2016, August 5). The Washington Post is Using AI to Write Stories During the Rio Olympics. Futurism. https://futurism.com/the-washington-post-is-using-ai-to-write-stories-during-the-rio-olympics
European Parliament and Council. (2016). Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (General Data Protection Regulation). https://eur-lex.europa.eu/eli/reg/2016/679/oj
European Commission. (2022). Code of Practice on Disinformation. https://digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/policies/code-practice-disinformation
European Parliament and Council. (2019). Directive (EU) 2019/790 on copyright and related rights in the Digital Single Market. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32019L0790
Martin, F., & Dwyer, T. (2019). Sharing News Online: Commendary Cultures and Social Media News Ecologies (Vols. 91–127).
U.S. Department of Justice. (2020). Justice Department Sues Monopolist Google For Violating Antitrust Laws. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-sues-monopolist-google-violating-antitrust-laws