‘Fake news’, the word of the year in 2016, but it is not a new phenomenon. However, new media technologies and new use of old media technologies can exacerbate the problem. Today, a dystopian view argues that search algorithms and social media undermine public discourse as online media spread fake news, divide users into “filter bubbles” of like-minded people and enable users to close themselves into virtual echo chambers hearing only their own biases. Consider the ways that the media itself can address these concerns and whether regulation by government or media platforms would provide better outcomes.
Illustrate your answers using specific current media examples. “Regulation” in this context is not limited to external government laws and may include self-regulation or the other regulatory tools explored in this Unit of Study.
Media technologies are considered vital in delivering quality information to social media. Some examples of these technologies include computer animation, mobile apps, and websites among others. Before the upgrading of new media, we had the old systems of media that included print media, telephone landlines, radio, and television (Long & Inbar, p 8, 2016). Though we still use some of the old media transmissions they are applied in an advanced way. As an illustration, we still use televisions though we pay some levy to subscribe to the channels unlike before when we could watch freely. An improvised system of media in the current economy includes Twitter LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram not only for airing news and advertisements but also for social interaction globally. Through mass communication, there has been large propaganda persuasive news by the journalist to capture the attention of the viewers.
As a journalist in Australia, it is relevant that they become very specific with the information they want to share with the public (Salman et al, p 4, 2011). However, the current system has been highly marginalized until most of the news we receive through the social media especially on Twitter turns out to be fake and full propaganda. In the essay, I am going to discuss how the new media technologies have overshadowed the old media system leading to a high spreading of fake news to the public. I will also talk about the strategies that media managers and the government can apply to avoid the spread of fake news.
In the modern days, there were strict laws and regulations, the information had to be truthful and be revised before it is published in the magazine or articles. The media houses had to abide by the media laws as publishing fake news to the public could lead to the social media platform getting sued for fake information. The legislation by which the government regulates all mass media stations as per the legal laws governing the country is known as Media laws. According to the 1997 Telecommunications Act signed by the government in Australia, stated that various broadcasting sectors must improve on their technology convergence of accurate news (Waters, p 22, 1999).
However, poor media laws and ethics normally lead to spread of fake news and misinterpretation of information leading to several court cases on defamation In democracies, media laws are seen as a balancing act between two principles namely freedom of expression and constraints as per the contents in statutes of common law. The 1998 Human Rights Act media law was formed to ensure that all citizens are protected from the freedom of the press as well as achieving their right to proper information The ALRC ensure that the information presented to their office is very confidential and sensitive therefore the solution should be determined in accordance with the Act of 1992 on Media Information Freedom (ALRC, p24, 2012).
The journalism ethics are ways by which media personnel such as videographers, reporters, and editors deliver news on issues that improve the lives of individuals. Media ethics in Australia are considered to be more pertinent due to regular changes on internet platforms and social media sites. High ethical journalism conduct is mandatory as it helps in the prevention of human integrity on their expression rights, political propaganda and hate speech (Crane & Matten, p 34, 2016). In as much as media policies might be different depending on the organization, there are core ethical codes in the constitutional laws that all the media houses must follow for accountability.
Examples of the code of ethics that the journalists need to apply at their place of work include giving fair opportunities to individuals in replying to their discussions, writing and reporting accurate information to the citizens free from biases among others. Some importance of media ethics are the creation of total honesty like disclosure of important facts, ensures a true and unbiased emphasis on information regardless of gender, race, and religion. However, in a case false or inappropriate information had been published and shared a consequent correction and apology to the public must be applied immediately (Fernadez et al, p 18, 2015).
Following the previous years, spreading of fake news was difficult because of the high amount charged on the distribution of the information on the panel. In the current economy, fake news is seen as propaganda by different individuals that tend to distort the real information to the readers (ALRC, p 28, 2007). The few groups such as bloggers do seek peoples’ attention through using the untrue information to persuade the public support the information. Fake news not only threatens a country’s democratic rights but also cultural hatred among the citizens. Therefore, any information on social media that has no justification is considered fake or imaginary news. Fake news is false tales that is shared on the internet or through other media outlets to capture the attention of the viewers and their ideas (Lee, p 1, 2017).
Fake news surpasses people’s right to privacy because some of them are published in the newspaper and social media creating tension and different views from the citizens some against the information. However, as much as fake news is used by bloggers in the social media platform some of them do advertise important information such as digital marketing agency or network to capture the attention of the audience making them have more followers through their blogs. Some fake news sources imitate trustworthy, independent institutions. Not all fake news authors aim to make people change their minds (Richardson, p 11, 2017). In most instances, website operators are questioned with respect to claims for content posted by users until they have knowledge of the content and fail to remove it immediately
Moreover, the media are allowed to publish any news until a new law is formed that controls the information that the public need to receive. Based on the fact that majority of the Australian population, over 10 million uses the internet mostly Facebook, fake news cannot fail to spread (Zelizer, p 23, 2015). The traditional news organizations are no longer important to the society in giving important information; on the other hand, the technologized have also relaxed in their duties in giving relevant information to the citizens. The self-regulatory system that has been adopted by the media managers through the government to curb the spread of fake news is through creating an online traffic security that will detect the fake news from reaching those using social media such as Twitter or Facebook.
Obtaining such a website is costly in the long run so, through an organization named National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), the government in Australia will collaborate with the government in handling the problem of fake news in the country by hackers. Additionally, the government made new rules for example companies using Facebook and Google to pass vital information must pay a levy fee called GST. An example of fake news that went viral was actress Jennifer Lawrence giving blames to US government Donald Trump on the dangerous hurricanes in the country. In reality, the information was that natural disasters happen because of human actions on the environment (Baym & Jones, p 14, 2012).
The most effective way to reduce fake news especially on social media is through developing an automated special machine called the fact-checker that will differentiate fictitious from factual news (Niklowicz, P 17, 2017). Other ways of reducing fake news from spreading are through the media giving feedback to its viewers on the untrue information by giving facts and researching on the information given by bots that changes the algorithms from receiving fake news.
Maintaining journalists reporting limits. At this point, a media house sets regulations and standards based on information their journalists collect and share through their platforms. By conducting a thorough analysis of the raw data collected from the field, the anchors will discuss and integrates their ideas together to capture the attention of the viewers. The reporters following the media rules and laws in Australia will maintain high discipline at their working areas and provide information based on the ground of their research and take or approval by the management for verification (Deuze, p 36, 2014).
Media outlets should protect their reputation by not allowing fake news to be shared in their platforms. This will make them prestigious and ensure that whenever they share any content people will always believe them hence build their brand and attract more adverts. Real news must be free, have truths, value objectivity and accurate. Such a transformation in the media brought a big blow to the media organizations so they had to well advance with the new technology. One value of traditional media communication was that it gave concise and clear information for the viewers and was very debatable on a platform leaving the receivers satisfied
Education. The media enterprise through their managers should receive proper education on the existing media laws and ethics and changes made for them to perform their duties within the limits needed. In turn, it will make the journalists knowledgeable of new laws to be able to conduct their duties with ease and also striving to keep fake news away from the public. It is a challenge purchasing an App that will determine fake from real news. The only way that these media houses can deal with such a situation is having restrictions to people using their website links to disseminate news on their social platforms.
The Internet provider should also provide information to the public following the reports by the media personnel without misinterpreting the original information (Podger, p 5, 2009). Another important feature to news broadcasters is that they should regularly monitor their profile page. It will ensure that their account is not hacked to give false information to the public and should there be any he or must report the act immediately to the police.
Ways of Government intervention in protecting the media from the violation or spread of fake news in Australia.
First is through licensing all media houses from televisions to radios. By authorization of licenses, it is a sign that the managers will be legally operating and broadcasting news to its viewers without any fear. The government will also ensure that only media outlets are registered and licensed after meeting the required standards for effective operation (Starbird, p33, 2017). The action will provide a way of the workers realizing that the license of the company can be recalled should they anchor the fake news. Another point is it will also make it easier to trace the source of fake news and punish the source to discourage the future spread of such news and others who may want to do the same.
Strategies to Address the Problem
Secondly is the use and control of modern technology by the government in that the media corporations need to adopt comprehensive measures that control and regulates both old and new technologies for easy communication and interaction with the citizens. As a member of the country, they have the freedom of expression and right to an opinion, therefore, an individual should be allowed to participate in an open discussion forum (Creech, p 2, 2013). Technology keeps on changing daily and the government in conjunction with the media managers must have certain standards on the use of technology such as setting algorithms that can easily determine fake news from the internet and introducing a barn on the internet site that encourages spread of fake news (Himelboim & Limor, p 16, 2011).
Conversely, protection of human right must be applied. Therefore the government should intervene to protect citizens from the freedom of the press and prosecute those that do not respect people’s rights (Josephson, p 44, 2013). Furthermore, proper legislative laws must be adopted to guide journalists in the collection and sharing of information.it should also put forward penalties and punishments that will be used to punish those that share the fake news. Moreover, it should ensure proper implementation of the media laws (Lazer, et al, p 12, 2017).
In conclusion, elimination of fake news in the Australian society might be a challenge to the government but through collaboration with the citizens and the media personnel, it can be reduced. The media platforms on the other hand should also work as a team in ensuring any vital information that goes viral on different websites if untrue they design ways of giving feedback immediately to their followers. Further, because social media currently dominates the largest number of users from all departments to the state members, there are a lot of mobilizations across different societies in reading the current affairs. It is, therefore, the effort of all stakeholders and consumers of news to get first-hand information rather than relying on other social media areas to know the reality.
Australia is considered as a state with strict laws and high democracy, all media houses are expected to collaborate with one another in the fight of fake news and any citizen or employee found conducting such illegalities must be given penalties and charged in a court of law. If an individual is found to be spreading fake news he should be prosecuted, charged of interfering with the privacy of others and creating tension among the citizens. The government should be involved in ensuring that media houses operate and air news based on the legal laws but not exploiting the media houses through control of news and views the should receive from the citizens.
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