Regulation of the Social Media
In most developed countries, the freedom of the media is enshrined in their respective constitutions. The governments play no role in its regulation following the complexity that has resulted from the emergence of the Internet. However, as much as the media is not regulated in such countries, media agencies have a responsibility to air truthful information abiding by the laws of the land. A person may be held accountable for untruthful or defamatory information aired through any media. The traditional media facilitated the enforcement of laws, which ensured that all released contents remained ethical. However, following the invention of the Internet, which is global in scope and/or does not obey any national borders, the freedom of the media was largely boosted to the extent that the government could no longer regulate what is disseminated online via devices such as smartphones. This section explores the effect of the Internet on the governments’ ability to impose regulations.
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The Complexity of Regulating Media Industries Because of the Internet
As more countries continue to embrace the new technology, media regulation is proving to be a hectic task for the governments. The anonymity afforded by the Internet and the social media platforms facilitate the sharing of contents that go against the law (van der Nagel & Meese, 2015). For example, social media platforms have led to increased cases of revenge pornography, a situation that is against the law of the land. Revenge pornography has increased in the past few decades, with people using the Internet to post naked images of their lovers in social media platforms, especially after separation or divorce (van der Nagel & Meese, 2015). The action is meant to defame the person in question. Several countries have enacted strict laws to regulate the vice to mitigate violence.
Cases of revenge pornography have been on the rise in many parts of the world. This situation has been brought about by the continued use of technology, specifically the Internet, and the availability of platforms to share such materials. To restrict these kinds of activities, various jurisdictions have formulated laws, using different approaches. These legislations have sort to criminalize and/or outlaw the practice with varying approaches and degrees of success. In the United States, many states have passed such laws to curb the ever-rising cases of revenge pornography brought about by relationships gone wrong. However, as much as such the laws are existent applying mainly to the media, the government has been unable to combat the vice due to the problem of anonymity brought about by the Internet (van der Nagel & Meese, 2015).
In most developing countries, the media has traditionally been under the control of the government due to the lack of democracy. In such countries, people have remained in the dark about most governments’ affairs due following media overregulation. The media in such nations could only air contents that are in favor of the government (Graber & Dunaway, 2014). However, following the evolution of the Internet and the social media, many developing countries have been unable to regulate the media. Instead, they are speedily embracing democracy. Democracy is characterized by the freedom of the media. Hence, democracy is compromised in countries where media agencies are under the control of the government. The media heavily contributes to the evolution of democracy since it educates citizens of their rights and freedoms pertaining to the elections and their expression.
Additionally, the media acts as a venue through which politicians communicate with the citizens. Through such interactions, citizens are enabled to propose policy changes, thus facilitating their participation in decision-making. The traditional media was heavily regulated to the extent that it could not achieve the stated purpose. The social media came as a solution to the problem of overregulation since it provides a venue through which citizens can express their opinions freely. For example, in most countries with dictatorial leadership, demonstrations are organized using the social media since the government is deprived of its ability to regulate the Internet-based media platforms. Some of the media platforms such as the social networks heavily contribute to democracy since they provide an avenue through which citizens can interact with each other and leaders to deliberate on certain issues affecting the country’s governance. In other words, they bring together people and their leaders. Through such Internet-enabled deliberations, citizens are enabled to make policy suggestions to the leaders without any government interruption since the medium used, the Internet, is beyond the control by the administration. Such suggestions are incorporated during the policy formulation process, thus giving citizens the power to participate in policy formulation.
In the recent past, the globe has experienced a sharp growth in the number of social media users. As opposed to the traditional media in which the identity of a content creator could easily be traced, the Internet-based media facilitates the ambiguity of the source, hence making it almost impossible for any government to regulate what is released to users. Today, governments across the world are unable to regulate the media since citizens are empowered to air the content of their choice. This situation has resulted in increased crime and the advancement of democracy in the less democratic nations as discussed in this section.
Exploitation of Content Producers
The invention of the Internet and the social media websites such as Facebook and Instagram have changed the way people communicate, with the traditional means of communication being replaced by the technology-based platforms. The young generation has specifically embraced social media as a communication tool. They tend to shun the conventional communication channels. A recent survey showed that approximately 80% of the youths in the United States have Internet access while about 70% of them use the Internet at least once daily (Cunningham & Silver, 2013). Besides, the study revealed that most of the adults with Internet access were also members of the social network sites, which they used to interact and/or make new friends. In 2006, out of the total adult Internet users (18-35 years), 17% of them were those who were using any social networking site. This percentage grew to 85% on 2011. However, although Facebook Company earns a huge sum of money from the content that users post, it does not share the profits with the creators of the materials. On the other hand, users use the platform to interact with friends or even earn themselves money, hence partly invalidating the claim concerning exploitation.
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Arguments for Exploitation
According to Karl Marx, exploitation refers to a situation whereby an employer fails to compensate an employee for his or her services (Cunningham & Silver, 2013). In the case of Facebook, the owners of the website may be said to be exploitive since they do not pay their content producers. In essence, Facebook users are responsible for creating and sharing their materials. In most cases, the content created by the users benefit Facebook since it adds value to the site. In the recent past, Facebook has recorded an increase in the number of its users, hence making it suitable for advertising. More and more companies are using it to advertise their products, a situation, which earns Facebook a huge amount of cash. However, as much as the company fully relies on the content created by users to make money, such people are not paid for their contribution.
Another argument that is used to support the idea that Facebook is exploitive is that it uses personal information given by users for personal gain. Facebook requires all customers to give their personal information when subscribing to be members. Such information includes a person’s age, gender, marital status, and religious affiliations (Cunningham & Silver, 2013). Based on such information, the company is able to divide people based on their demographics to help businesses in targeting the right client. For example, the company has been accused of using information regarding users’ marital status to help marketers in the fashion industry to promote their products online. By helping businesses to identify their target customers, the company earns money in exchange. In the recent past, the company’s income has grown tremendously. However, it has been reluctant to give back part of its earnings to the users.
Arguments against Exploitation
The social media has changed the face of the contemporary business in many ways. One of the impacts revolves around interaction with customers. Many people today tend to make reviews after purchasing a certain product or service. Contrary to the past where such customers would communicate their experience through a word of mouth, reaching only a few customers, nowadays, the communication is in the form of assessments. Facebook has specifically been an important platform for such communication. It is alleged that an average Facebook user has about 350 social friends. Hence, a review will instantly reach a huge population (Tyler, 2012). A positive review will prompt readers to test the product and equally share their experiences.
On the other hand, a negative review will drive away prospective customers. The other impact that the social media has on customer relations is that it helps to create loyalty among customers. Some businesses today have created a group of loyal customers in the social media who help to market their products cost-free. This strategy has the effect of reducing the overall operation costs since the business may not incur high expenses for placing ads with other mediums such as the highly expensive print media. Lastly, social media has influenced the entire business transactions between the seller and the buyer. In most cases, buyers tend to communicate about the product through social media. Buyers may demand information about a product. They expect a response within the shortest time possible. Therefore, as much as the Facebook owners do not directly pay content creators, they benefit greatly from the media, hence disputing the view that Facebook exploits its users.
Tyler (2012) argues that the social networks are a good tool for knowledge management among firms. Knowledge management encompasses the collection, processing, storage, and the conversion of data into useful information that can be deployed to inform the decisions of a firm. Knowledge management (KM) has become an important tool of management in the contemporary business environment, owing to the stiff competition that characterizes the market. Initially, the concepts of KM were not popular in the business world. However, in the past few decades, they have gained momentum since each business seeks to outsmart the other in the specific industry. Firms are today increasingly using social media to improve their products and services based on the customers’ reviews (Tyler, 2012). In this age of increased use of the social media, customers tend to make reviews about their experience after making a purchase. The reviews often include the positives and negatives. Firms are also encouraging customers to air their concerns about a product to gain insight of their extent of satisfaction. Through such reviews, companies are able to seal the gap in customer satisfaction through innovatively integrating customers’ reviews when designing or improving a product. Therefore, the argument about user exploitation is not valid.
Facebook is one of the social media platforms that earn a lot of money from advertising. The company has a large following from different parts across the world, hence making it suitable for advertising. The company has been accused of using its large following and the content created by users to make money, which it does not share with the creators. However, while the users of Facebook may claim they are being exploited, the allegation may not be valid since the company also allows users to interact freely without charging them. They can create and post anything through the platform. This situation gives users the freedom of expression. The content may also be designed in a way that earns the users money.
Benefits and Problems of Internet-enabled Flexible Working Arrangement
In the recent past, more companies have realized the need to use the Internet to facilitate remote working. Remote working refers to an engagement in which an employee operates from outside the office using the new technology. This shift toward Post-Fordist immaterial labor in the information economy was originally hailed as bringing more flexibility for workers. Employees also argued that the shift was freeing them from tight control by companies’ heads. However, it has resulted in the emergence of precarious gig work and the primacy of unstable short-term contracts. Computers and the Internet, at large, have specifically changed the face of modern jobs since they facilitate communication between employees and the company from remote locations. Hence, as this section reveals, the flexible working environment has its advantages and disadvantages.
Benefits of Internet-enabled flexible Working Arrangement
Internet-enabled flexible job atmosphere has exclusive advantages, challenges, and prospects in the media sector. To begin with, employees are the major recipients of a flexible working environment. For example, they stand a chance to operate from any place at any time of the day. Another advantage that technology-based working has is that it helps to speed up the process of problem solving within the organization. In any organization, communication is needed to solve the various problems affecting its operations (Ashari, Heidari, & Parvaresh, 2014). Solving problems in a firm requires consultations among stakeholders to facilitate the adoption of informed decisions. In the absence of a sound communication system within a company, problem solving would be a hectic task that can result in inefficient decisions. The manual communication systems involve holding roundtable meetings with stakeholders to deliberate on the possible courses of action available to a firm. Such meetings are time-consuming since they require members to be personally present. Technology creates a communication system within a firm based on some of the most up-to-date messaging and collaborative apps, which are supported by the Microsoft Exchange 2007 Enterprise Edition that allows staffs to communicate with each other without having to meet (Lehdonvirta, Hjorth, Graham, & Barnard, 2015). This situation, which facilitates fast communication between employees and the executives, eliminates the need for employees to be personally present in the meetings. This situation not only saves time but also increases employees’ flexibility.
The other way that companies increase their efficiency through technology is by promoting knowledge availability. IT-based working offers a platform on which information can be created and stored for retrieval by the employees anytime, anywhere, and from any device. The availability of such information ensures that employees remain updated concerning the business operations, hence increasing their productivity. Additionally, it ensures that business operations are not stalled by the absence of technical expertise by any of the employees in the company (Ashari et al., 2014). Anytime employees have trouble when executing a certain task, they can consult their colleagues for support or open the databases for the relevant support. The availability of such information and support ensures that workers are highly productive, hence averting the stoppage of operations on the grounds of lack of sufficient information regarding a particular operation. Besides, such information promotes organizational learning, ensuring that the employees are regularly updated about the emergence of new business practices.
Time saving is another benefit accruing to the firm because of the embracement of IT-based working. Initially, employees would waste a lot of time going from one department to the other to collect information regarding the business tasks. The introduction of IT-based communication systems eased information sharing, thus enabling departments to communicate with each other without the employees having to personally move from one work station to the other to collect the relevant information. Manual sharing of knowledge may be hectic. It may involve workers going from one department to another to obtain such information. Its time-consuming nature may cause disruptions to the ongoing operations (Lehdonvirta et al., 2015). Communication between departments is essential for streamlining business operations since it facilitates the sharing of knowledge, hence enhancing efficiency. Additionally, it offers a platform through which employees may present their grievances to the top managers. This situation averts instances of resistance from the workforce. Interdepartmental communication also empowers employees to contribute to the decisions of the firm. It may help managers to detect deviations from the set business norms and practices. Therefore, engaging employees in the decision-making processes not only averts resistance from them but also motivates them to work hard to accomplish the goals they have set for themselves.
Problems of Internet-enabled Flexible Working Arrangement
One of the challenges evident in a remote working setting is that it presents challenges regarding work-life balance. Although employees who work from their homes tend to have more hours to do their personal tasks, the lack of a predetermined schedule may complicate the work of the concerned employees. Lehdonvirta et al. (2015) argue that employees who work from home are forced to work late night due to lack of properly defined schedule. The other problem that is associated with remote working is that it may inhibit teamwork and group learning. While the traditional work arrangements allow employees to physically interact with each other at the workplace, remote working does not support personal interaction among employees (Ashari et al., 2014). Physical meetings among workers promote peaceful coexistence, hence fostering teamwork. Additionally, it helps to eliminate diversity issues, which may lead to better performance of the company.
Present-day companies work under the extensive pressure of finding ways that will enable them to remain aggressive and appropriate in their lines of business. As a result, it is vital for them to ensure that workers are not only as industrious as possible but also accessible on-demand any time of the day. Besides, following the extensive nature and demand of particular sectors, including the evolving technological setting, the need for a flexible job plan is not only a requirement for workers but also pertinent to companies capacity to maintain their competitive edge. Remote working refers to an arrangement in which an employee works from outside his or her office using a computer and the Internet. In the recent past, this practice has increased tremendously since firms seek to increase efficiency and/or reduce operations costs. Many advantages are associated remote working, including fast decision-making, increased flexibility, and increased customer support. On the other hand, the disadvantages include work-life imbalances and inhibition of teamwork. The advantages and the disadvantages have been discussed in details in this section.
Ashari, H., Heidari, M., & Parvaresh, S. (2014). Improving SMTEs business performance through strategic use of information and communication technology: ICT and tourism challenges and opportunities. International Journal of Academic Research in Accounting, Finance and Management Sciences, 4(3), 1-20.
Cunningham, S., & Silver, J. (2013). Screen distribution and the new King Kongs of the online world. Berlin, Germany: Springer.
Graber, D., & Dunaway, D. (Eds.). (2014). Mass media and American politics (9th ed.). Washington, DC: CQ Press.
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Lehdonvirta, V., Hjorth, I., Graham, M., & Barnard, H. (2015). Online labor markets and the persistence of personal networks: Evidence from workers in Southeast Asia. Web.
Tyler, A. (2012). Welsh Libraries and Social Media: A survey. Ariadne. Web.
van der Nagel, E., & Meese, J. (2015). Reddit tackles “revenge porn” and celebrity nudes. The Conversation. Web.