The dynamic and participatory nature of digital media

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Last updated: July 20, 2019

Thedynamic and participatory nature of digital media has created a multi-sidedplatform for new forms of political involvements. By new forms of politicalinvolvements I meant new concepts which become more prominent after the 2010Arab Spring like citizen journalism, online activism, fake news, computationalpropaganda and aggressive micro-targeting. Some of the new forms of politicalparticipations have positive impact on democracy while others don’t. For thepurpose of this analysis I will focus more on the rise of fake news. Ofcourse, the 2016 US presidential campaign experienced a wide range ofunprecedented issues that included, among others, widely circulated ‘fake news’stories (Silverman, 2016), the increased prominence of populist rhetoric amongcandidates (Oliver & Rahn, 2016), and the pivotal role that social mediaseemed to play in sustaining support for populist candidates among voters(Kriesi, 2014; Tufekci, 2015). One explanatory narrative that quickly emergedwas that social media, by acting as portals of shared information determined tobe sought (algorithmically or otherwise) by users, may have helped Trump win bycultivating ideological filter bubbles that lacked cross-cutting information(Baer, 2016; McCormick, 2016b; Newton, 2016; Pariser, 2011).

Indeed,the days and weeks after the election were marked by regular coverage of socialmedia propagating ‘fake’ campaign news (Parkinson, 2016; Welch, 2016), creatingthe psychological profiles for targeting certain voters (McKenzie, 2016),intensifying ideologically charged or partisan feelings (Herrman, 2016), oreven influencing the election outcome itself (BBC Trending, 2016; Hooton, 2016;Isaac, 2016; Isaac & Ember, 2016; Lapowksy, 2016). Furthermore, in themonths since Trump took office, the argumentation over fake news has onlyintensified, as have analyses suggesting tightly linked chains of ideologicallyshaped information flows and filter bubbles where individuals intentionally orunintentionally self-select into media coverage that is ideologicallymonolithic, patently false, or a combination of both (Benkler, Faris, Roberts,& Zuckerman, 2017).

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