Manipulated Media

It’s becoming increasing easy for people to manipulate media in ways that are both damaging and undetectable. It used to be pretty obvious when a video, or photos, were altered. Now, with improved technology it’s difficult to discover some of these modifications without a lot of backend detecting work. Accessibility to these new technologies has also increased, meaning more people can now use them.

Platforms are also catering to this “mix and match” method of creating content. Tik Tok, for example, allows content creators to take bits of audio or video from other content creators to seamlessly create new content. In doing so, new memes, videos, and interpretations of audio clips can be re-invented continuously. The creativity of these mash-ups often impresses me, especially when they are clever or funny. However, there is a downside. Sometimes these mash-ups can be harmful, resulting in discrimination, defamation, or harassment.

The realistic nature of the new content, combined with the volume, makes it nearly impossible for people to do anything more than view it and move on. Meaning some of the damaging content isn’t getting verified, fact-checked, or sourced. With so many outlets all competing for our attention, it can also be difficult to know where to look for a source of truth.

Having high-interest, short snippets of information is a proven method for getting a lot of clicks. Thus, many people use catchy headlines, promote false stories, or exaggerated titles to gain an audience. Or to have their content shared broadly. This also feeds into the algorithms working silently behind the scenes to constantly suggest new content for us to view. Some of this is based on what we have liked, or viewed, previously. But mostly, they aim to keep our attention focused on the social media site. I blogged about this before a few years ago in “Social Media: Fanning the Flames.”

As mentioned earlier, people don’t have time to check everything. In fact, some people don’t even read the articles attached to sensational headlines before sharing it. Given the direction technology and social platforms are moving, I’m not sure what the future holds. Legislation and ways to control damaging technologies are often slow to develop, usually in reaction to something that has already happened. For now, be mindful of sensational content and how it grabs your attention, perhaps for longer than necessary.

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