There was a 150% rise in social media manipulation tactics between 2017 and 2019, according to the Oxford Internet Institute. In a recent survey, more than 40% of respondents said that social media had facilitated divisiveness and foreign political intervention. Furthermore, we know that countries like Russia allocate huge sums of money yearly to misinformation campaigns.
A new study shows that Intelligence analysts are employed by governments, internet corporations, and anti-disinformation teams to keep tabs on the effects of media manipulation online. According to ExpressVPN, the rise of deepfakes has made it easier to manipulate public opinion through propaganda campaigns and spread disinformation by altering people’s memories of past events. As of today, the number of deepfakes is in the millions, with an expected annual increase rate of 900%.
What Do We Have To Lose By Manipulating The Media?
Specifically, misinformation is defined by the European Parliament as “created, presented, and disseminated for economic gain or to intentionally deceive the public, and may cause public harm.”
Public Health and Safety
The public’s health and safety are being compromised. Initial investigations show that public opinion on controversial issues, such as vaccination and experimental therapies, may be swayed by media manipulation. There is a major effect on transmission rates and healthcare infrastructures on a global scale.
Co-opting social movements, influencing public opinion on global problems like climate change, and recruiting susceptible people into terrorism are all ways in which media manipulation may affect public safety. The European Parliament views the spread of false information as a threat to individual privacy, democratic freedoms, and the right to free expression.
Manipulation of the media may sow distrust between citizens and their governments, undermine democratic procedures, and inflame international tensions. According to a report by the US Department of Justice published after the 2016 US presidential election, the Russian Internet Research Agency paid for more than 3,500 Facebook advertisements in favor of Trump and ran a network of phony accounts pretending to be American activists.
The annual cost to the global economy of media manipulation is estimated to be $78 billion. The price tag covers everything from stock market losses to fighting falsehoods.
Tech behemoths like Facebook have made clear their intention to crack down on media manipulation across their platforms. However, papers that were released earlier in 2021 demonstrate that attempts to investigate and counter social media influence are falling behind the curve.
According to the RAND Corporation, most counter-disinformation methods, including Facebook’s, depend on human and machine analysis, which leaves detection gaps at scale.
Disinformation campaigns are highly coordinated, using bot networks, deepfakes, and advanced AI to increase distribution and avoid discovery, as if spotting the troll wasn’t difficult enough.
Six Rules For Identifying Manipulated News Stories
Countering the harmful effects of media manipulation requires the ability to recognize deceptive material, which is easier said than done. Some suggestions to sharpen your analysis:
Mind the citation!
Since various websites use different criteria, even seemingly reliable reports should be evaluated closely. The author merits evaluation by the analysts. Is it possible to verify who they are and what they want?
Think critically about the material
Think about the interest in this story beyond the headline. Verify the accuracy of the cited information if it comes from a reputable source. If you have doubts about a certain subject, you may utilize a fact-checking tool.
Read the comments below
According to leaked papers, comments on Facebook postings might play an even larger part in misinformation campaigns than the posts themselves. Even when published on reputable outlets, false or misleading statements may go unnoticed.
Trace its beginnings
Whether or whether visual media corresponds to the time period or area stated in the write-up depends on knowing where and when the information was recorded. Don’t trust articles that use images without crediting their creators.
Make use of image-search-reverse
Verify the authenticity of the material by doing a reverse image search. This aids in detecting the fraudulent usage of previously taken photographs or videos.
Look at your own prejudices.
Online media is seen through the lens of the individual’s values and life experiences. Think about the potential impact of your own biases on your content analysis.
4 Ways to Avoid Manipulation on Social Media
Avoid Social Media as a Source of information
If it wasn’t clear before the spread of COVID-19, it is now. There is a lot of misleading data on sites like Facebook and YouTube, which may have fatal consequences. There’s no doubt that social media has democratized both the dissemination of information and its production. However, this has both benefits and drawbacks.
Curb Your Social Media Addiction
Even though it’s so obviously true, not everyone follows this rule. Spending less time on social media helps you focus on what really matters in life, such as friends, family, and hobbies, and also protects you from the many types of social media exploitation.
If you just can’t get yourself to do it, then maybe you might download an app that will assist you. You can reclaim control of your time and focus with the help of a variety of tools, from basic blockers and time management applications to high-end productivity software like FocusMe.
Carry Your Weight
The world’s governments need to crack down on social media and implement stricter rules. We can’t just sit here and hope something good happens, however. Each of us may contribute in a variety of ways. Legislators in your area might be lobbied to propose or vote on legislation that seeks to control social media if you feel strongly about this issue. To effect change from the bottom up, you may start or join a grass-roots movement.
Ignore Promotional Links
Clicking on advertising is a certain way to open yourself up to manipulation on social media. There are two main factors at play here. First, on a more individual level, this will aid you in avoiding the purchase of unnecessary items that you may come to regret. In most cases, buying after careful thought is preferable. Don’t give in to the temptation of buying anything the second you set eyes on it; instead, jot down some notes. After some time, whether or not you still need that item should be reevaluated. Possibly you could use that cash toward something of greater importance or save it to one day assist in making your wildest dreams come true.
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