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Rules and Ethics Typically Applicable to Mass Media Don’t Necessarily Spread Over to Social Media

The answer to Social Media Misconception rests within the Semantics


Originally Published by Illumination Curated on Medium



Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Chronology of mass media is not a modern-day practice. The concept of taking the message across a group of people reaches back into the pre-industrial age as a public service. The mass media intends to serve all community members. In some countries, it is provided by the government to people living within its authority either through direct public-backed funding or by financing the provision of services. Therefore, mass media practice is traced back to when acts were performed in various ancient cultures, as first noted within the printed Chinese book, the “Diamond Sutra” in 868 AD. The book describes the action when a “movable clay type” was invented in 1041 in China. It is being accepted that because of the sluggish education spread among the people in China and the comparatively high cost of paper there, the earliest printed mass-medium was the famous European prints from about the 1400s.

Today, mass media refers to any media technologies that scope a large audience employing mass communication. It merely pertains to a variety of outlets. However, they all share one thing in common, actively swaying the message to a passive audience member who may or may not be in search of what is happening in their sphere.

Parallel to the chronology of the public media development and the technological advancement in the space, further branches of how the message is taken. That includes various chapters of communicating information under the umbrella of journalism as an academic profession, e.g., Interpretive Journalism, Investigative journalism, Watchdog journalism, Online journalism, Broadcast journalism, Opinion journalism, etc. Naturally, all intend to overcome one all-time mass media challenge, that is “fake news propaganda.” But the question is: are they genuinely succeeding in their mission? Or is there a quality news paradox?

The answer to these questions is not the topic of our current discussion; nonetheless, it serves as the epitome of the favorably shifting semantic nature of what a quality mass media should entail. That is also valid for social media since many people equate social media to mass media and vice versa.

The significance of Active versus a Passive Audience in the Realm of Communications

Even where public services such as mass media are neither publicly provided nor publicly financed, for socio-political reasons, they are usually subject to regulation, which is beyond its applicability to most other economic sectors. That is merely based on the notion of establishing an equal opportunity for everyone to express and perceive information without prejudice; not necessarily who thinks what is a piece of correct information or no, but mainly because if it is the prevailing opinion, whether it makes sense or not!

But with the ever-sweeping development in communication instruments, more and more public are becoming active participants of the more variety and vaster public squares than passive audiences of traditional mass media. The catalyst of such a comprehensive course is the digitalization of mass media first, then taking it into the “World Wide Web.”

Indeed, we have travelled a long road in a relatively short period, where the conveyance of information and exchange of ideas is as easy as a click of a keyboard. We have not established a system of checks and balances that would not unilaterally empower a group or entity over the rest of society’s souls.

With ever-increasing active participants of “information generators,” the passive state of an audience is becoming more than ever ambiguous to our societies, as the more active strategically and “technologically endowed” takes over the control of the passive audience.

Social media is one of the said endowed!

Indeed, our societies are suffocating in the vacuum of controlled active participation and encouraging individual submission. That seems to ensure our culture progressively takes over by political radicalization, Crony capitalism, Corporatism, and corporate greed. Once again, the Semantics of mass and social media need further elaboration before we truly grasp modern public broadcasting’s core stutters.

Public Broadcasting, Social Media and Media Ethics Ethics of social media deals with explicit ethical principles. It meddles with standards, including broadcast media, film, theatre, the arts, print media, and the Internet. It virtually defines and deals with ethical questions about how the media should use the citizens’ texts and pictures.

Social media utilizes virtual interactive digitally-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation, sharing, and exchange of information. Such information may pertain to anything from ideas, interests, and other idiom forms conveyed through virtual communities and networks.

Today, there are clear and growing challenges to the definition of social media. However, almost all Social media share one common denominator: they are all nothing but interactive Internet-based applications where Users actively generate content such as text posts or comments, digital photos or videos, and data generated through all online interactions offered by an intermediary. And that intermediary is often a private entity.

Traditionally, before social media evolution, public information was primarily dissipated through Public broadcasting via radio, TV, and other electronic media channels whose principal purpose was a public amenity. Therefore, to maintain fair and unbiased Public access to information (at least theoretically!) in many countries worldwide, funding came from governments, primarily via annual fees charged on receivers. The aforementioned is still valid today across the globe. Some governments often take their privilege to the next level by censoring the given information based on what they deem fit for their societies. In the United States, public broadcasters may receive some funding from both federal and state sources, but frequently most of their financial support comes from foundations and business underwriters, including corporations. They may also receive contributions from selected audiences; furthermore, a great bulk operates as private, not-for-profit corporations. Nevertheless, they are also supposed to be bound by specific ethical and constitutional standards and respect free speech and information freedom, which is a matter of open controversy.

The argument surrounding free speech becomes even more delicate when we apply ethics and legality to social media. As mentioned earlier, social media is an active participation platform for the forum participants, just like attending a group discussion with a designated host and venue. However, that venue may not be devoid of limitations, as it is meant to be private property.

Any limits and platform restrictions would be offered to the audience before the schedule, the entity’s overall mission, and clear expectations in the real-world. Nonetheless, we can hardly assume that is the case in the modern social media environment because modern social media’s utter mission is solely focused on business, data mining, and consumer satisfaction. Although their mission may endorse free speech under the notion of data validation, their strategies are sole to monetize public information.

Naturally, we cannot use that against them, as they are not a public broadcasting company, neither can we confront their actions, because we may have agreed on their terms somewhere during or after signing up with their Software as a service (SAAS) platform by clicking a button. But what we can contest is their transparency and clarity of their vision and mission and legally hold them to those standards. Even given such circumstances, we cannot equate social media to mass media based on its participants’ passivity and activeness and that social media has no pledge to be neutral, thus respecting free speech. Because inherently, social media is about exchanging information, any such exchange is a potential catalyst for anything along the friendship spectrum to the hostile environment. Furthermore, social media stakeholders will probably fit somewhere in the said spectrum from ideological perspectives.

One can hardly hold social media, even so, the mass media to constitutional standards, as both have their challenges evading corruption and meddling. We can hold media to any given era’s ethical standards only if we realize our values and refrain from using a system that does not fit into a media mission’s given framework. That is why Media ethics must promote and defend our values, such as a universal reverence for life and the rule of law. Indeed, the Internet has impacted media ethics in general, thereby complicating the idea of a universal code of media ethics. Some refer to social media as the “Media sector.” But, the most common mistake citizens make is to confuse the media sector and mass media. The mass media places the audience in a passive position, whereas, Social media puts the audience at the center of active participants where People are both the audience and the content creator, which provides a unique experience of social collaboration and social interaction, opening many doors for corporations to meddle into our daily lives.

The central question: Should Privately owned Media be obliged to Respect Free Speech?

As stated by a Congressional Research Service report in March 2019, the Supreme Court has recognized social media sites as significant venues for users to exercise free speech rights protected under the First Amendment. However, whether social media and legislators uphold those standards and if these social media platforms live up to their promises is a matter of controversy.

Currently, the reality is that federal law does not offer many alternatives for social media users who pursue to contest a social media provider’s decision about whether and how to present a user’s content. Some argue that several internet companies, including some social media sites, should be treated as state actors subject to the First Amendment. However, Courts have perpetually rejected these claims by upholding the notion that social media sites do not meet the “exclusive public function test.” Social media providers hold their networks open for use by the public is insufficient grounds to make them subject to the First Amendment.

There is a significant Clash between the constitution and the social media practice and many grey zones amidst all. However, all must keep in mind that information exchange is actively administered on the private digital social media platform and not the municipal physical territory. So regardless of how unethical the platform is, nonetheless, they are not necessarily breaking any laws. So, to reflect on your opinion avoiding entrance to the unfair property may be the wisest choice. But would you?!

Social media satisfies the mainstream of their side of the ideological aisle; that is why they always survive even though biased.

The Realistic Expectation of and the ideal use of Social Media


We don’t seem to have a right to free speech on social media and how it is being meddled. The First Amendment shields persons from government censorship. Social media platforms are private firms and can stifle what people post on their websites as they see fit. One of the biggest hindrances with social media is that we can’t express body language correctly. We all must rely on emojis to sway certain gestures. In other words, current social media is lacking a personal touch. That provides a false sense of immunity to people who express radical thoughts and disrespect. We all may say things that we would otherwise avoid if we meet in person. The tension built under social media circumstances can be overwhelming, thus serving as a catalyst for ideological confrontation. Imagine expressing anti-Nazi remarks at a Ku Klux Klan (kkk) meeting?!

Not many would do that in a physical scenario, but many do in a social media environment. Social media is trying to avoid that, but that is undermining free speech and banking on their economic success only after helping their political beneficiaries.

Maybe, we are lost in the Social Media Semantics! Or is it the Double Standard?


American dialogues about free speech often don’t distinguish where free speech is applicable and because many don’t comprehend that if you confront a Nazi in their own home, you can always be removed from their private establishment.

We must all agree that there are no perfect media; there has never been and will probably never come in the foreseeable future. As the epitome of any other business, social media will have to survive, make a profit, and under pressure, will most likely pivot strategically to stay ahead of the game. Hence it will adapt itself to the prevailing rhetoric of the society and drive to satisfy their ego. Corporate social media will only reflect the needs of the mainstream. The individual interest is never an option in their schedule. But they will moderate their audience so that they are doing the right thing, knowing that doing the right thing by satisfying the mainstream ego is not the same as upholding truth, nevertheless free speech. Thus, social media moderates their audience utilizing semantic shifting of what is ethical to adjust their policies in accordance. Admission to social media is probably like a dress code for a restaurant or applying a uniform code for schools. Of course, people who would be against school uniforms would be okay with restricting social media. Or those who are in with porn on public media may contend open conversation on subjects with which they are not comfortable. Unfortunately, we are experiencing a loss of the meaning of respect as the core issue astounding the modern social media discussion.

Social Media Companies are just one more form of Corporate Entity

“ Social media is an excellent tool for the exchange of ideas, sharing perspectives, and finding better solutions to most problems. However, that is if we uphold the freedom of speech and expression in its purest form too.”

We are living through the era of radical politicization where media has become the Vehicle for Preputial Extremism. Modern media’s role in politicizing everyday social, economic, and scientific issues has become a well-known fact to most informed individuals. Digital podiums and social media play a significant role in attaining that goal line.

Crony capitalism has captured the deeds of commitment, moral concern, and cooperation toward human inner orbs, succeeding at the price of folks outside of those spheres. While at it, social media will do everything in its power to exploit public information. Because data is power, it has contributed to the variety of “Trojan Horse phenomena” where corporate cartels have embraced to roll out more serfdom of their Neo-feudal ambitions. The modern era corporatism is the epitome of Transformers Metaphor, where they use a prevailing turmoil within the social media to unleash makeshift plans to grow more powerful. Just like mass media challenge the unleashing surveillance programs amid coronavirus pandemic. So. It would be an over-optimism if we attribute fair and unbiased traits to social media and expect anything other than a profiteering stance from them. Among many strategies, they frequently use the linguistic variance of phrases, actions, and phenomena to manipulate the public response. Words and idioms grew to be the subject of continual chronological reform elicited by a given society’s dynamic modifications at many points in the epoch and location.

Social media even carries out Covert Censorship by Sponsoring Popularity over Credibility, Promoting “Likes,” “Followers,” “Regards,” and “Claps” based on Mainstream inclination. That is the Embodiment of Suppressive Censorship.

Today, with the prevalence of corporate sponsorship of socioeconomic globalization, social media has found its perfect niche within the ever-expanding sphere of power strife. And, until they decide otherwise, that is going to be their mission. Unlike the prevailing belief, Liberals are neither against corporations, as social media mission is right within their alley of prerogatives, even though their slogans are converting otherwise.
“Today, the popular social media comes about censoring free speech under the notion of ‘checking fact’; mindless; the source of that fact may perhaps be moreover nefarious.”

“Free speech sounds beautiful; in fact, I don’t believe anyone denies the fact that it should be respected, but in reality, those who truly believe in it also believe, not every opinion is wrong even if it is coming from the worst enemy and not every opinion is right just because is being expressed by a loved one!”

#SocialMedia #Ethics #Media #Semantics #Society


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