My Ssec Capstone Project By now it should be very clear that social media has very strong effects on the real world

By now it should be very clear that social media has very strong effects on the real world

By now it should be very clear that social media has very strong effects on the real world. It can no longer be dismissed as “things that happen on the internet”. What goes on inside Facebook, and other social media platforms can change the course of nations. Neither does it help that social media is driven by subjective factors (i.e., the emotions and feelings of users), instead of objective things like facts. Everyone now has their own truth, which is based on their personal knowledge and experience and not much else. Idealists would have us believe that the internet is a utopian paradise where everyone can connect with anyone else, where information can be exchanged until the truth came out. Things haven’t quite turned out that way as there’s little to no proof that the information being passed around online was properly vetted and verified. It turned out that a lie could get around the world much faster than the truth if the lie played to the lesser, baser instincts of the audience. Combining the internet and applying public opinion manipulation theory has proven to be remarkably effective. In the past, elections were a contest between a country’s political parties, with each trying to get their own message out to the electorate. It was difficult, if not impossible, for external actors to influence an election. This is no longer the case, and political campaigns and parties now have to plan accordingly. They need to understand that parties outside of the political sphere have their own agenda and can use cyber propaganda and misinformation to influence campaigns and elections as well; this is something that political parties need to understand and defend against, if needed. Social media networks are grappling with the problem and trying a variety of techniques to help deal with the fake news problem. However, this can only go so far: with so much user-generated content, isolating and finding fake news is bound to be difficult. The norms of what is and isn’t permissible on social media have yet to be decided on. Eventually, however, society will come to some form of agreement on what is possible and perhaps the power of fake news will be lessened by then—at least until the next standard changing technology or communications platform arrives. That leaves the targets of fake news: the general public. Ultimately, the burden of differentiating the truth from untruth falls on the audience. The pace of change has meant that acquired knowledge and experience is less useful in finding the truth on the part of the public. Our hope is that by becoming aware of the techniques used in opinion manipulation, the public will become more resistant to these methods. Awareness of these techniques can also help institutions such as governments and credible media outlets determine how to best counteract these techniques. Applied critical thinking is necessary not only to find the truth, but to keep civil society intact for future generations

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