In June of this year, the United Nations published a report on the integrity of information on digital platforms, which the author acknowledges that although the technology is still In addition to social media and information sharing, they also promote misinformation and hate speech. Both events have become a major threat to the world.
False information and hate speech on social media can lead to violence and death. Mass dissemination of false information poses a risk to society and endangers democratic institutions and human rights.
Digital platforms include various social networks, internet searches and messaging, which connect millions of people around the world. Facebook alone has about 3 billion users.
Since these digital platforms have the ability to host many users, as well as many creators, they can influence the information that people are exposed to every day. The fake information and hate speech that are constantly in the virtual world not only make the public confused, but also make people’s lives dangerous.
Fang Kecheng, a professor of Journalism and Communication, Chinese University of Hong Kong, has been involved in the practice and research of journalism and communication for many years. . In an interview with UN News, he first identified the change caused by digital platforms in terms of information dissemination.
“When the digital platforms and the internet appeared for the first time, people had hope and high expectations. That hope comes from the hope that the dissemination of information has become more widespread, when the restrictions for obtaining it are reduced. It is based on the information published and received is correct and good..
But there are some things we do not include, and that is the fact that today is the reduction to publish and access to information also means less protection to publish and receive false content, neutrality and discrimination. .
What’s even worse is that, on our digital platforms, dubious content, fake news, conspiracies, or even hate speech, tend to attract more attention and spread faster than true and good. “
Political and economic
UN News: What is the motivation behind the emergence of misinformation and hate speech?
Fang Kev: “Actually, in our world, The main motivation for the production, publication and dissemination of false information is simple business.. In other words, it is easier for this content to attract and generate traffic; and these vehicles can be monetized and turned into huge incomes. This is how many people, companies and groups are taking advantage of this business opportunity and using it to make money.
In fact, it happened very much during the US election in 2016. Back then, there were Russians who were attacking politicians who were spreading information and controlling influence on the country of United States of America. At the same time, there is a group of young people, unemployed and without money, living in a European country called North Macedonia. They realized that the fake news they created about the US election on Facebook attracted a little attention and turned into business and income. So They spread fake news just because of money.
Spreading false information has its own characteristics in China. It was created for economic reasons, but since China has strict content control and censorship, an interesting phenomenon occurs: smart marketers want to use false information to make money and at the same time hope to create ‘safe’ false information and false information. ‘, let him deal with as little as possible.
What this means is that many people choose to work with false information about foreign countries, in the international media, such as the Russian-Ukrainian war, the election in the United States, etc. thing. There is a lot of misinformation about these events because the likelihood of being removed or censored is low. For example, since the Russian-Ukrainian war started more than a year ago, a lot of fake information has been spread. According to the information that some people receive every day, the Russian army has won many times, while this information is obviously far from the truth. This is the result of the digital information ecosystem in China“.
They are a minority
UN News: After receiving information from different sources, people will form different judgments and form different opinions. Some will continue to fulfill these thoughts and express their thoughts on digital platforms. That’s the problem, how should we look at the extreme sermons that flood the internet?
Fang Kev: “The first thing I want to raise is: when we see blasphemy and division on the Internet, we should not take it as some kind of opinion of the public or opposition representatives. chat online Chat is a very small group of people, maybe only 10% of Internet users actively talk on the Internet. Let’s not think that Internet users are all horrible and hateful.
The question is: Why these 10% of people, whose opinions are the highest, will often criticize and speak hate, hear more, when the voice is not loud? This goes back to the basic social media product mechanism. The mechanism of the product determines that More emotional content will tend to be easier to listen to. Because this type of content is easier to like, spread, and share, creators get a lot of attention and psychological support. Social media platforms such as They do not encourage or allow quarreling, quarreling and arguing with each other.. Instead, it supports the type of thinking and thought-provoking content. “
Anonymity and violence
UN News: Beyond business motivation, why does bad behavior happen?
Fang Kev: “If people with this bad attitude go to a place and know that they can hide behind their personal information to attack others without hindrance, they will do it. , it is more important to create conditions so that they have less motivation and ability to commit crimes. It is important to make sure that these online crimes get a high price“.
UN News: And what will be the solutions?
Fang Kev: “The people who make these actions, the creators and those who spread fake news are, of course, direct workers; but if we see that these problems are not isolated out, but if it is a good problem, we will know that. Punishing specific individuals will not be enough. So we need a solution.
Now, the platforms also have a role. These create the systems and types of environment that lead to more misinformation and violence online. In addition, they get economic and business benefits directly from the cars they make.
Naturally, in any business, such trading companies will not be more proactive in doing things that cost them and affect their income. Therefore, solutions to these problems must involve other aspects of society, including government supervision, media supervision, cooperation of non-governmental organizations, as well as the development of public awareness. This is required problem solving techniques to solve root problems.
Of course, the government should intervene from a legal and conservative point of view. This is a more complex issue and the government needs to be balanced. Finally, this includes monitoring and controlling the right to express online, which can turn into regulation, censorship and interference of free expression. How to promote freedom of expression and exchange of ideas while maintaining a healthy environment of online expression? “We need to carefully develop the regulatory framework.”
UN News: When everyone’s daily life is connected with digital platforms, how to get different and comprehensive information and avoid fake news and misinformation?
Fang Kev: “Everyone needs ‘news literacy.’ It is often about the ability to collect and analyze the quality of the information we consume. Each piece of information we are exposed to has a unique feature. It did not fall from the sky or it was created from a specific platform. There must be a creator behind it, such as, for example, the “New York Times” or a personal creator of unknown origin. It is very important to know the place and based on our own knowledge and experience, see the reliability of this special resource.
Being a media savvy person means knowing that if I care about the news and information I consume, I will not let social media platforms use the algorithm and feed me whatever they want.. I will do more work and find news and content from sources I trust. Little by little I will be able to create and modify what I call my own “media menu”. Know what is healthy and best for me, what I really need at the time and then actively search for what suits me better. “It is very important to change the job from being fed with information to someone who actively seeks and receives information.”