Digital connections have transformed societies. Instant connections, chats, comments ensure you have access to everyone you know or have ever met, a click or two away. Yet social and networking platforms are facing tremendous heat for falling short of their once high-quality standards.
Social platforms and digital media are the same tools that united the world, toppled dictators eventually today are the same tools that have torn the world apart.
Politics is driving and controlling digital media and the headlines. The role of Facebook and Cambridge Analytics in meddling the US elections, and of Facebook not being agile in responding to the #blacklivesmatter movement came under the regulatory and community lens. The digital community is expecting the platforms it supports to be just, non-discriminatory, and fair.
Thus, from being digital social groups that replaced coffee mornings, and helped mums remain connected with digital friends, in-between school runs and sports fixtures, today the same social media is being accused of accelerating divisions of race, socio-economic status political mindsets, and religion.
But even more painful is their inability to unite people post a humanitarian crisis or an act of terrorism. When millions of subscribers believe a fact as well as fiction for fact, we are losing our values and ability to drive change to an avatar.
Backed by corporate greed, the pressure exerted on social platforms and digital media to attract audiences has given rise to sensationalism, with all channels focusing on violence, crime, destruction, the race to be the first to report has led to truth and accuracy suffering a silent death. Yet, the silent voices that need international attention are left out from this sensational news feed.
In 2016, 96% of the victims of terrorism were from Africa, the Middle East, or South Asia. An attack perpetrated by specific communities gathers significant media frenzy than terror attacks by other communities, fanning stereotypes, fueling backlash, triggering violence, and sometimes hate attacks against wider groups.
Media coverage is strategic, allowing gradual information flow, causing tensions to simmer and release to be timed to suit media and political gains. By not deep-diving into the crux of a controversy, media leave dangerous questions unanswered and proposed solutions untouched, thereby creating an extreme divide. Instead, it creates a meta-reality – a fascinating show of light, sound, imagery that mocks reality and ends up replacing and displacing it.