Media Landscape and Information Ecosystem Pollution
Many users and consumers have come to depend on information sources not filtered or managed by information professionals, especially when opinion pieces trump factual reporting, when public respect for scientific authority wanes, and when entities proffering and preserving authoritative news and trustworthy information attenuate in number and influence as they are subject to adverse government meddling, sanction and even persecution, or are weakened by dwindling subscriptions and advertising revenues due to the ascendency of social media that allow original contents to be scraped from any sources and shared by users without permission or recompense. Even when information literacy and media literacy are not at issue, the quality, validity and reliability of information sources are themselves increasingly at risk of being undermined whenever media integrity and diversity have been tarnished or compromised by the concentration of media ownership (also known as media consolidation or media convergence) and the formation of media oligopoly or monopoly, all of which can dent the ability of media outlets to serve the public interest and democratic process, to resist institutional corruption within the media system, to withstand economic influence, political clientelism and conflicts of interest, and to curtail excessive instrumentalisation of the media for particular corporate demands, political goals, partisan strategies or sectarian ideologies that are contrary to the democratic role of the media and detrimental to net(work) neutrality.
Polluting the terrains of information landscape and muddying the waters of social discourse, innumerable online sources of misquotations and disinformation use fraudulent techniques and unethical ways to fool users into thinking that dubious blogs, sham news sites, fake accounts, social bots, deepfakes, astroturfing operations and front organizations are legitimate and that the information generated is factual or unbiased. They also play significant roles in shaping (outcomes of) public opinion and social behaviour by acting as incessant and pertinacious influencers, manipulating people on social media platforms, supercharging memes and cultural trends, even limiting free speech, suppressing important messages, stoking animosity, dismantling trust and inducing chaos by creating a deluge of bogus accounts, fake identities, automated messages and social spams to deliver profanity, threats, hate speech, insults, damaging quotations, cyberbullying, clickbaiting, social hacking, malicious links, unsolicited content, misleading claims, fraudulent reviews, fabricated news and conspiracy theories.