Almost 80% of the population in the West receive their news through social media. Indeed the blogging world has enormous influence. The difference between the social media and the traditional media, Newspapers, Radios and TV is that these formal media are subject to legal scrutiny. They can’t generally tell untruths, at least not deliberately, and there is usually a validation of stories before they are published. The standards of ethics in the media vary but generally the standards of institutions such as The Times of London, The Boston Globe, the New York Times, The Sydney Daily Herald, La Monde, the BBC, ABC, NBC, et al (by no means a definitive list) set standards that the liberal social democratic populace feels comfortable with and reasonably well informed by.
There has been for many years a slide into more popular news media, Fox News, The National Enquirer, the now disgraced, News of the World. What these media enterprises have in common is to present the sensational and the base. They appeal to the lowest common denominator. Examples of extreme right or left always signal danger to the very idea of a centralist democratic state. Recently in UK a newspaper called the judiciary “The enemy of the people” which is inflammatory and extremely seditious in the sense that the statement itself is untrue and based on fallacious, and deliberately biased thinking.
One of the great issues of our time, is the freedom of the ‘press’/’media’. The question of how to inform, as opposed to influence improperly.
The great popular uprisings of the 21st century in UK and USA (Brexit and Trump) have shown that the traditional media have failed almost entirely to influence the centrist way. Nationalism, populism and tribalism have held sway, much as they did in the 1920’s and 30’s.
With social media and fewer controls, rumour and extreme views flow with ever more freedom. Now there’s a thing! Freedom to express yourself however inaccurately or maliciously, you are allowed to portray the facts/fiction as you perversely see them.
Education, as usual is basis for democratic thought. Yet philosophy and rational thinking are often perceived as elitist and the property of the rich. The ‘have nots’ are vulnerable to accept anything different, especially if the message comes texted in mono syllables. (Now I’ve slipped into elitism right away!) That’s the issue, it’s the media not the message. We have to educate not only the populace as a whole, but somehow encourage popular social media to measure and ameliorate the content it promulgates.
The world is in danger of tipping into anarchy if the freedom of social media is allowed to publish anything to those less fortunate, whose ability to read one liners is still superior to their ability to reason.