ABUSE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND DEVELOPING COMMON CONTROLS
Posted on August 2nd, 2021

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

Social media, which has been originated in the last quarter of the 20th century, started giving justice to ordinary people who were restrained to express his /her views in major media (Print, Radio, and Television). The major media represented owners’ views and sometimes advertisers’ points of view regarding products and services and they excluded representation of the views of members of the community at the cost of advertisers because the major media is depending on the earning from advertisements. Social media also may depend on the revenue earned from advertisers. The major media cannot get away from independent views always but were reluctant to disadvantage or create a negative impact on the advertisers and associated parties. If major media is depending on the revenue from advertisers, it should go along with advertisers’ expectations and if it expresses views creating negative impact for advertisers, it would be disastrous for the media. If social media also depends on the revenue generated from advertisements. I have a question, did the embarkation of social media to the field changed the media policy? It is a hard question because finding evidence pro and against is formidable.

The beginning of electronic techniques for media has been rejuvenated the handling of information and has complicated the use of media for various purposes. Social media is subject to abuse, and it has the possibility of misuse is the major issue associated with social media. The critical reason for the abuse is social media gives the opportunity of posting information scrutinizing, the other concern matter is the freedom to posting information without control. For example, kids use social media to post information that is not essential or has a higher probability to lead the community or individual to either conflict or mislead, or misinformation or many anti-social actions. The risk of misuse is incurred with the lack of control for the use of social media. As the control of electronic media is formidable, the development of a strict ethical code for users would be useful the society.

In this environment, social media has been originated as an instrument for the globe, maintain controls has been a laborious task and the new ethical code should be applied in all countries. The technology of social media is based on electronics, which is complicated major media, and now social media has driven to the way the major media has been unexpected by media owners.

Many newspapers and magazines publishers combined other major media such as radio and television and electronic media such as web pages to attract viewers and users of information in major media (print, radio, television, web, electronic, social media) use without acknowledging. This situation leads to cheating and creating misinformation, fabrication, and manipulation. The development of an ethical code for users of all media will be useful to prevent such misuse.

The ownership of major media in some countries is monopolistic while in other countries it is an oligopoly with few competitors. In many countries, media companies are public or private companies, sometimes they may be under the sole proprietorship. The ownership style has developed in countries based on company law and regulations and the governments in many countries have freedom and opportunity to change the ownership style, which is related to the legal and regulatory environment of the ownership. Could this also be included in the ethical code and convert all media trusted and honest?

A part of the total market of media ownership is associated with the government. In such a situation, could media be independent? According to my experience in Sri Lanka, since the beginning of major media, the handling of information has been a biased role toward the politics of governing political parties, and many times, I observed certain media firms were biased against selected political parties. It could be treated as an abuse of media freedom. The experience could happen in other countries too.

Social media has become a competitive instrument, as many products of social media arrived in the market for specific purposes. The new structure of social media has informally classified under subject areas and it is useful for users. Another visible issue is that the use of major media (print,  radio, and television) has been radically declined because of increasing the use of social media. For example, readers of newspapers and magazines have been diminished by contributing two major reasons. One is information publish in print media appears in social media as well, the second is to gain information from print media became costly. A trend of increasing prices of print media products during the past several decades experienced and people feel that when social media provides free, the purchasing of print media products would be a waste of money that could be used for other purposes. The cost of social media is comparatively lower than print media.

During the past decades, the authorities of social media got a genuine attempt to controls and listen to the voice of the public. It is an arduous task because social media associate with all places where online connections are available and social media handles information in many languages that users are familiar with. The major issue is social media can publish views on various matters before verifying the accuracy of the information, and this nature of information handling in social media supports publishing adulterated information, insulting people, support political parties, and manipulating people, etc. Many times, unknown persons used or breached the security of account owners for various purposes and this opportunity has motivated many people to get away from the use of social media. I read news in Sri Lanka that a person living in London manipulated a lady in Sri Lanka and attempted to cheat her demanding money, threatening to publish her nude pictures. This type of incident could not happen in major media.

How can change this situation is a major challenge for social media, and it is costly. To reorganize social media with new rules might need applying charges from users and such a direct control may force to reduce the volume of users. Social media are using various languages and nations and such controls are difficult to implement.

Many countries monitor the abuse of social media and use it for criminal intent, and the volume of abuse in social media is higher than in print media. Control would be appropriate charging for posting the different information and the administrators need to develop a schedule of charges that show the price for posting. However, publishing articles and using them for academic activities should be free and the administrators of social media should broadly consider this option.  

It is quite clear that administrators of social media expect self-control among users and some people who used media for various purposes have created a competition and this situation has been used to beguile people through misleading or manipulation, cheating, or any other way. 

Allowing to express views is greater freedom, however, allowing social media to insult people, cheating, and disclose bogus information would be against expected media ethics and freedom, and Facebook, Messenger, YouTube, and many others are used to mislead people. Much information relating to this nature could consider that they have immoral values How can control mistrust be the major issue, and freedom should be launched with a console and the user of social media must sign an agreement with the owners of media stating that they will not abuse the opportunity.

The current system of opening accounts needs to change of procedure. The electronic delivery of education requires kids to engage in using online systems, and while engaging in online education, they have many opportunities to use social media. I noticed social media is carrying much educational information that is useful for learners. In such a situation, social media cannot exclude from education.

I think it needs a greater debate on how to productively use social media and educate the disciplines to use social media.

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