Facebook heralds the advent of a society that mirrors what the social network claims to promote. Not a society of democratic exchange, where people interact within a virtual agora by opposing arguments, but a society divided by antagonism and defiance, one that is partitioned in isolated bubbles; not a society of free sharing of information but of commercial exploitation of the data we deliver each time we visit Facebook. Should we turn away from this social network and all those who promote its paradigm?
Google, Facebook and Twitter last week vowed to fight fake news, hate speech and abuse in their own ways amid the backlash over how such content may have influenced voting in the U.S. presidential election. Those actions could have come sooner, and many troubling issues persist.
Overcoming the pessimism that permeates many visions of the future of the news media, today we find ourselves in a period of intense activity, i.e. in the “creative” phase of a Schumpeterian moment. Many startups no longer rely on advertising and are refocusing on the service provided to the reader. Crowdfunding has freed up initiatives and is allowing for experimentation. Brief.me, a daily newsletter launched in 2014, was born of such experimentation.
Further fueling the ongoing debate over the future of the news media and independent journalism, eBay founder and billionaire Pierre Omidyar last month committed $250 million to a news site co-founded by journalist and author Glenn Greenwald. Omidyar’s investment followed the announcement over the summer that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had purchased The Washington Post, also a $250 million investment. The late Steve Jobs’s wife, Lauren Powell, and 29-year-old Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes are also pouring money into old and new media ventures. Could this new band of news media owners shape a technology-led business model that will be profitable and protect the integrity of impartial, ideology-free journalism? Ultimately the ball will rest with the consumer.
They are between 15 and 34 years old. Nicknamed the “digital natives”, they are the first generation of individuals who have always lived with the new technologies. They eat, read, inform themselves differently, and their cultural practices are shaking up the media landscape. Between traditional media and emerging players, two models are competing. Will the latecomers displace older lions? What options do traditional media have to counter their decline?
The revolution in Tunisia and the toppling of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak resemble any number of prior upheavals, except for one thing - the role played by social media. Facebook, in particular, which once seemed just a high-tech way for teenagers to waste time, is now emerging as an important political tool. Why has social media been so useful to the protesters in North Africa? How will it be applied next? Will it really change the world?
Through GSM mobile telephone technology and its ability to local people geographically, we can now attempt to measure collective emotions in urban environments. This opens the door to a host of new social and commercial applications for this generation and the next.