Ruptures and trends in digital communication: Study addresses challenges of media logic

The researchers identified critical points in the digital communication transformation, focusing on the circulation of disinformation and hate speech.
Comunicação
10 一月 2024
Ruptures and trends in digital communication: Study addresses challenges of media logic

The rapid digitalization of society is causing media logic to overflow into areas such as politics, economics and culture, reconfiguring contemporary power and market relations. In this context, Victor Piaia (a professor at FGV ECMI), Renata Tomaz (a professor at FGV ECMI), Marco Ruediger (the dean of FGV ECMI), Amaro Grassi (FGV ECMI’s project coordinator) and Ana Guedes (the vice dean of FGV ECMI) wrote an article titled “Ruptures and trends in digital communication” for GV-Executive, a journal published by the Sao Paulo School of Business Administration (FGV EAESP).

The researchers identified critical points in the digital communication transformation, focusing on the circulation of disinformation and hate speech; the potential for destabilizing institutions, political actors and markets; the challenges of regulating social networks; and the advance of artificial intelligence.

The article highlights critical points that managers can use as a guide to face challenges resulting from the expansion of the communications field in the 21st century. Its central focus is on analyzing basic phenomena linked to changes in digital communication and understanding their impact on the political, economic and cultural spheres.

Growing waves of mediatization have driven significant social, political and economic transformations. However, the current moment is undergoing a latent change due to three processes:

  • Constant connectivity: Proliferation of smartphones and technology, thereby erasing the boundaries of being online;
  • Automated sociability: Quantification and management of connections;
  • Platformization: The experience of digital mediation of users through the business logic of tech giants. 

“In this sense, to think about digital communication means to think about processes that are not restricted to the field of communication and that have become increasingly present – sometimes in a turbulent way – in other relevant fields of social life,” the researchers wrote.

They identified four critical points in digital communication today:

  • Circulation of disinformation and hate speech

This critical point is related to the central role that social media platforms and messaging apps play in the dissemination and reach of disinformation campaigns, conspiracy theories and the spread of hate speech. Although different, these phenomena have gained another dimension due to transformations in the structure and visibility dynamics of digital public debate. In other words, the content used to be available, but accessing it required effort, which resulted in circulation limited to extremist bubbles, without reaching the wider public debate.

  • Potential for destabilizing institutions, political actors and markets

At a time of deep and fast transformation in the communication ecosystem, digital spaces have been at the center of a process of increasing questioning of traditional authorities and institutions, ranging from a crisis of confidence in traditional media outlets to claims that the electoral system is prone to fraud. Digital communication has played a role in the dissemination of messages that have promoted distrust in the Brazilian electoral system in recent years.

  • Challenges of regulating social networks

This issue has been materializing worldwide in discussions of platform regulation, in the wake of episodes and scandals that have shown how the data collected and the algorithmic management of these networks have distorted electoral processes, encouraged anti-democratic mobilizations and promoted social conflict to an extreme degree of polarization.

  • Advance of artificial intelligence

Quickly considered a frontier technology topic following the launch of the public version of ChatGPT in November 2022, artificial intelligence has been developing for decades and been incorporated into the foundations of various tools and interfaces that we use on a daily basis. As with other emerging technologies, the contemporary debate has been marked by fatalistic positions that point, with pessimism or optimism, to the inevitability of the incorporation of these technologies and their impact on society. 

Perspectives

How do processes related to digital communication directly and indirectly impact the routines of companies and institutions? This question was answered throughout the research. These phenomena affect at least three levels of productive activity: context, due to the turbulence and opportunities generated on a macro-political and economic scale; marketing, linked to the pervasiveness of big tech in the communication, organization and productivity flows of companies and institutions; and interaction, in the tensions emerging in the routines of employees, in light of contemporary informational disengagement.

The researchers suggest a new approach and perspective as a way out of this problem. Even if organizations don’t have the capacity to create content with media companies, they have all, to some extent, been inserted into the contemporary digital process. This means that there is a constant demand to keep up with trends and changes in the fields of innovation, regulation and public communication

To read the full article, click here.

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