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Security of the Media Audience in the Modern Information Space

Marochkina Svetlana Stanislavovna

PhD in Economics

Marochkina Svetlana Stanislavovna - Associate Professor, Department of General Psychology and Social Communications, Sochi State University

354000, Russia, Krasnodar Territory, Sochi, ul. Plastunskaya, 94

marochkina@inbox.ru
Kruglova Marina Sergeevna

ORCID: 0000-0002-8469-565X

PhD in Economics

Kruglova Marina Sergeevna - Senior Lecturer, Department of General Psychology and Social Communications, Sochi State University

354000, Russia, Krasnodar Territory, Sochi, ul. Plastunskaya, 94

marin.kruglova@gmail.com
Other publications by this author
 

 
Kruglova Lorina Ermondovna

PhD in Technical Science

Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, Design and Ecology, Sochi State University

354000, Russia, Krasnodar Territory, Sochi, ul. Plastunskaya, 94

lorinakruglova@gmail.com
Other publications by this author
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/2409-7543.2023.1.39836

EDN:

FYSTSK

Received:

18-02-2023


Published:

25-02-2023


Abstract: The object of the study is the current state of the information space, the subject of the study is human security in the conditions of modern media space. The author examines in detail such aspects of the topic as the impact of media products on society, manipulative and viral technologies in the media sphere, the theory of setting the agenda, the problem of fake content in mass communications. Particular attention is paid to finding ways to identify fakes in the information field of the Internet and, in particular, social networks to ensure the media security of the user. The authors consider the dynamics of the development of the phenomenon of "post-truth" against the background of pandemic reality, analyze the differences between true news and fake, and provide a set of measures to expose false data in the media environment. The main conclusion of the study is the judgment that the mass audience invariably faces the need to filter content and recognize fakes, especially in the online environment of social networks, which requires certain procedures for monitoring and analyzing information. A special contribution of the author to the research of the topic is the conduct of a sociological study and processing of the results, which allowed us to form a model for evaluating news content in social networks to identify fake posts. The scientific novelty of the study consists in considering the previously unexplored features of the media security of the modern media audience in the information space on the example of social media resources.


Keywords:

media safety, information space, mass audience, social media, fake news, content, mass media, mass communication, agenda, Internet

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

Currently, media resources are steadily becoming the center of public life, culture and economy around the world. The mass media today accompany a person at every step. Modern media science has come a long way from trying to understand the history of the means of communication to analyzing their impact on mass consciousness.

One of the most serious problems of today's mass media is the impact of new information and communication technologies on the form and content of media products, on the processes of its production and consumption, on the overall role of the media in society.

The purpose of this article was to study approaches to ensuring "media and information security", or media security, in the processes of content consumption by users of the online environment. In recent years, the topic of human security as a consumer of media content has been at the center of scientific discussions, the formation of a holistic view of media security is an urgent need of society. The study of media security is especially relevant in the context of the problem of fake news spread in the communication space.

The provisions that formed the basis for the study of the topic of the work have been developed by foreign scientists since the beginning of the XX century: first of all, these are the results of research by sociologists such as G. Lassuel and P. Lazarsfeld, the authors of the first models of mass communication. The publication in the 40s of the last century of the works of scientists such as K. Shannon and N. Wiener, served as the beginning of the development of the mathematical theory of information, it defines the concept of "information" precisely through a measure of reducing the uncertainty of knowledge when a certain event is committed [5].

In the modern world, information is becoming a powerful integration force, uniting the activities of billions of people in the global information space. I. A. Dobrovolskaya emphasizes that the information space is interpreted from two points of view – from the technical aspect of its formation and in the cultural context [3]. In the first case, the term in question is defined as a set of information resources and infrastructures that make up information transmission channels. The second approach offers an understanding of the information space as a conceptual environment reflecting the worldview of people of the modern era.

Given the complexity and scale of the sphere of society that is called "media", it is not surprising that in theoretical studies of this phenomenon we come across the problem of multiple definitions. The concept of media is based on a diverse set of structures and activities with different ways of communication and classroom features [9]. According to the authors, one of the possible approaches is to consider media in the categories of the communication process: 1) those who transmit information are communicators; 2) mass media messages; 3) those who receive information are consumers of media products; 4) social context. According to another approach, print and broadcast media can be distinguished, as well as digital media separately.

The transition of society to the information stage of development requires special attention to media security. As V.F. Ivanov notes, media security problems appeared long before the Internet, but now they are undergoing transformations in the information society and require relevant solutions [4].

Media security is one of the types of security of a modern person, the protection of the interests of members of society from threats that the information space may or already conceals. On the Internet, media security is the protection of users from negative phenomena in the process of digital communication, including from receiving false information. The study of network media security, as A.S. Bykadorova and E.V. Shapovalova write, is aimed at ensuring the personal security of the user in a virtual environment [2]. Knowledge of the basics of media security allows you to recognize false information and prevent its dissemination.

In the light of the informatization of society, all possible variants of dominance in the information sphere come to the forefront. The use of manipulative technologies in the process of informing society can change the communicative attitudes in the whole society and, thus, completely subordinate all its beliefs to the interests of the communicator. Let us clarify that often the manipulative nature of the management of public opinion through the media is expressed in the possibility of creating an unrealistic and biased picture of reality for the reader or viewer.

The key tool of information impact in this case can be called news, and the result of the impact is the formation of the agenda. Recently, the term "agenda" has become quite firmly established in the discourse of scientists dealing with the problems of mass communication. The deliberate focus of mass media on certain topics is commonly referred to as the phenomenon of setting the agenda. News in the media is always a selection of stories that are relevant at the moment. Often, an event, regardless of its scale, can be noticed by the public only if it gets on the pages of publications, on screens or on social networks. At the same time, even a significant phenomenon of reality can remain without public attention if it is not displayed in news reports.

According to the theory of setting the agenda, one of the main dangers of the media for a person is a distorted perception of objective reality through the picture of events that is offered in various media. Also, the theory of framing is presented in science – the next stage in the development of the theory of the agenda, which means the conscious strengthening of some topics on the agenda along with the silencing of others.

Currently, many authors in the field of media write that the era of "post-truth" has come. Due to the large number of uses, the word post-truth was declared the Oxford English Dictionary Word of the Year 2016. The popular opinion has become that the world, in parallel with globalization and the development of mass media and social networks, has entered a kind of new information state. It is characterized by a low proportion of true facts and statements in the flow of information. This is the state of "post-truth", which came after the conditional era of "truth". The aggravation of this social problem occurred against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic [7]. The scale of unreliable information in the media field even provoked the emergence of a separate term — "infodemia".

In journalism, there are classical principles of work – objectivity and reliability: journalists and the media are responsible for the information they report. However, we are talking about officially registered funds, while websites, blogs, social networks are much more difficult to monitor and control.

Population surveys show that the vast majority of young people prefer information from social networks to official sources [1]. Among the respondents aged 18 to 24, the most frequently used source of information (81%) are social networks and blogs, from where representatives of this age group most often learn news. At the same time, it is social networks that create the conditions for the implementation of covert management of public opinion. Useful content on the Web is adjacent to information garbage - mainly on sites that are not responsible for the published texts. It is necessary to understand that not all the content of social networks is verified facts, to filter out questionable messages in the process of media consumption with the help of fact-checking and content filtering.

In 2020, the State Duma of the Russian Federation at the plenary session adopted amendments to the Law "On Information, Information Technologies and Information Protection" and amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses (CAO) aimed at countering the so—called "fake" news - fake information distributed under the guise of reliable messages and posing a threat to media security. In other words, it is an information hoax, misinformation in the media with the aim of misleading for profit. False informers publish articles working for the benefit of black PR, and litter the information field with news spam.

Fakes mimic the news media, creating the illusion of sensational massages. Fake news authors often use catchy headlines or completely fabricated stories for ratings, views, increasing readership and reposts. A fake situation can also be considered a false relationship, when, for example, the title of a publication does not correspond to the real text of the news, which ultimately distorts perception. Fake news can pursue various goals: they are created in pursuit of popularity in social media, achieving political or competitive advantages, discriminating against certain groups of people, drawing attention to an individual or company.

According to the Google Trends service, the popularity of the "fake news" query has grown dramatically in search engines in recent years. The number of studies on the nature of fakes is also growing. Scientists have revealed that fake news differs from real news in terms of the distribution scheme in social networks [8].  Fakes do not get wide coverage immediately, but as they spread viral, while interest in real news drops sharply after the peak of citation in the first day. The obvious signs of fake news in social networks include a news picture without a link to the original source and specific factual data.

In the era of fake news, a separate profession has appeared – a fact checker: many major media and news agencies have their own fact checkers. Fact–checking (from the English to check facts – to check facts) is already a standard procedure in journalism and documentaries, which allows you to determine the truth of the information provided. This activity requires careful attention to details, the ability to work with various sources and select reasoned facts [10].

For example, the Department of Information and Press of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation applies a set of measures to neutralize false data about events indirectly or directly related to Russia. The project team conducts media monitoring and fact-checking, exposing fake informants on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry, under the heading STOP FAKE. The results of the work are published in the sections "Examples of publications replicating false information about Russia" and "Refutations". The first section contains direct copies of anti–Russian articles provoking a reputation crisis, and the second section contains the Ministry's comments on these publications. Each analyzed fake publication is stamped "Stop Fake", a short translation of the content of the article and a link to the original are provided. In addition, a refutation is compiled, that is, with the help of experts, an analytical commentary on the news is compiled with arguments and facts confirming the falsity of the information guide or its details.

The media security of the content consumer presupposes the availability of tools to determine the authenticity of news, so as not to become hostage to contradictory information. First of all, it is important to understand the nature of the "fake": rumors, "newspaper ducks" in the yellow press, jokes that are the product of the author's imagination can be attributed to the prototypes of the fake. At the next stage, an idea is formed about the stages of distribution and replication of such fake news. It should also be borne in mind that fake messages, as a rule, are thematically "repelled" from the news agenda and are not independent stories, but a false part of the whole story.

The algorithm for recognizing fake news begins with verifying the authenticity of the actual data. Materials with false information often contain incorrect links, dates or modified deadlines. Next, the source, the identity of the authors and expert quotes are checked, reviews and comments are monitored, and the reputation of the source is assessed based on the collected data. Often, links and comments to an article can be automatically created by bots or users hired to post misleading information. A sign of this is the uniformity of comments, their one-sidedness. Many false news stories are compiled with the aim of provoking strong emotions or rapid reactions, therefore, the main recommendation for users is to maintain critical thinking, willingness to compare different sources and seek confirmation on state media resources [6].

We conducted a survey of student youth in 2022: 60 students aged 18 to 22 years took part in the survey. In the questionnaire, respondents were asked the question: "In what ways, in your opinion, can fake content be exposed?". The distribution of responses is shown in Figure 1. As can be seen in the diagram, the youth audience evaluates articles for questionable content (61.7%).

Figure 1. Survey data

Respondents check facts in various sources (60%), critically comprehend information (60%), study expert articles (51.7%), pay attention to the reputation of the news distribution channel (48.3%). To a lesser extent, young people pay attention to the wording of the title of the article (only 23.3%) and the opinions of friends about the news (8.3%).

Based on the theoretical analysis and empirical research, a model for checking news for the presence of false content has been compiled. The model visualized in Figure 2 is focused on application in order to ensure the media security of the user of the social network. The process of fake recognition includes familiarization with the message in social media, content analysis - analysis of the correspondence of the title to the content, assessment of the authenticity of the content, stylistic analysis of the text, checking the originality of images, comparison with the agenda in reputable media. In parallel, the search for the original source is carried out.

Figure 2. Social media content assessment model for detecting "fakes"

Thus, the media security of the media audience in the information space depends on the quality of the content verification procedures, relies on methods of verifying the authenticity of facts and quotations. Modern problems of media security are becoming more acute on social media platforms, and therefore each user needs the skills of content filtering, fake recognition and source analysis for safe media consumption.

 

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Peer Review

Peer reviewers' evaluations remain confidential and are not disclosed to the public. Only external reviews, authorized for publication by the article's author(s), are made public. Typically, these final reviews are conducted after the manuscript's revision. Adhering to our double-blind review policy, the reviewer's identity is kept confidential.
The list of publisher reviewers can be found here.

In the peer–reviewed article "Media security of the media audience in the modern information space", the subject of the study is human security as a consumer of media content. The purpose of the article is to analyze approaches to ensuring media security in the processes of content consumption by users of the online environment. The research methodology is based on the classical concepts of the theory of communication of the XX century (G. Lasswell and P. Lazarsfeld, K. Shannon and N. Wiener). To analyze the current situation in the information space, the latter is considered from two points of view – from the technical aspect of its formation and in a cultural context, and the concept of media security is introduced as protecting the interests of members of society from threats that the information space may or already conceals. Theoretical research was supplemented by non-representative sociological research through a survey of 60 students from among the student youth aged 18 to 22 years. It is difficult to overestimate the degree of relevance of the problem of media security, it is paid attention not only by researchers and the expert community, but also by journalists, public figures and top officials of states. At the same time, the topic of human security as a consumer of media content is at the center of scientific discussions, and the development of a holistic view of media security is a vital need of society. In the process of analyzing the current situation in the media space, the authors come to a reasonable conclusion about the aggravation of the problem of media security, in connection with which they state the need for each user to have the skills to filter content, recognize fakes and analyze sources. The paper substantiates that the media security of the media audience in the information space depends on the quality of content verification procedures, and is based on methods of verifying the authenticity of facts and quotations. In this regard, a model for evaluating the content of social networks to identify "fakes" was proposed. The article has a certain level of scientific novelty. This study is characterized by general consistency and literacy of presentation. It is characterized by the clarity and validity of theoretical conclusions and practical models, which cannot be said about the empirical part of the study: the survey of 60 students does not allow us to draw conclusions about the methods used to expose fake content by the entire population of the country. The bibliography of the work includes 10 publications (that is, the required minimum is met) and includes publications in both Russian and foreign languages. It generally corresponds to the stated topic and allows for a full appeal to opponents. But it is necessary to design the list of references in accordance with the requirements of the journal and it can be recommended to expand it. Conclusion: The article "Media security of the media audience in the modern information space" has scientific and practical significance. It will be of interest to specialists representing the sociology of communications and the field of journalism. The work can be published after putting the list of references in order and correcting the design of the empirical study.
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