14 January, 2020
Revised: 18 February, 2020
Accepted: 23 March, 2020
Published: 20 April, 2020
In recent years, social media digital platforms are concentrated in the hands of the few individuals and corporate bodies globally. These giants include Facebook, WeChat, Amazon, Apple, and Google, who operate in the franchised model for-profit, political and economic signification. Their abilities to manipulate data, censor it, and repackages it gives them an upper hand in setting economic and political agenda in these new media markets. With the financial muscles at their disposal, these corporations have continued to mine individual data for their benefits, which is not limited to advertising but also influencing individuals' behaviours in political and social-economic development issues. Datafication and ''platformization'' of individual's data have paved the way for which there is a need to understand the new political economy of subjectivism. Personal information is used for the commodification of messages to make them appealing and create economic imbalances. Although individuals using such kind of platforms benefit from various advantages, which include social development and economic mileages that it is associated with them, they found it a challenge when it comes to the issue of privacy, unwarranted marketing messages, and intrusion into their solicitudes. Personal data is used for profit, tools for research development of new ideologies to direct and make vital political and economic decisions. This article explores the various ways in which the new media political, economic giants have strategized in the influencing of privatization of information for maximization of profits as well as creating barriers to access of vital information by their consumers.
Keywords: Digital platform, Datafication, Platform society, Commodification, New media, Social-economic, Political economy.
Received: 14 January 2020 / Revised: 18 February 2020 / Accepted: 23 March 2020/ Published: 20 April 2020
This study logically analyses and contributes to the existing ever-growing literature on the new media and political economy. Therefore, it documents the importance of alternative usage of open source software that is feasible as a strategy to minimize exploitation from the few corporates’ giants in the new media economy.
New media is defined differently by scholars to mean different things. In the analysis of these definitions, essential elements that erupt, including interactivity, connectivity, convergence, and technology (Doğan & Oze, 2019). Other scholars have delved themselves in offering the characteristics of what is so-called the old media to distinguish them with what is current media that is majorly hosted by the internet. Scholars like Livingstone and Lievrouw, base their argument on the way messages are conveyed using technology in social media platforms. While scholars like Gitelman and Pingree look at them specifically on the practices that include digitization, telecommunication, and collaboration in general (Forte, Mudambi, & Navarra, 2014). Therefore, it is inevitable to note that new media can be defined differently based on the period of technological transit in comparison with other media. Consequently, the article borrows the definition of Monovich, who defines new media as the use of digital computer technology for distribution and exhibition of cultural objects that would include all sorts of individual and organization needs.
The communication modal of the new media makes it a perfect tool for the current evolution of humankind in the digital age. Their ability to convey the message easily from one part of the globe to the far east of the earth gives them the advantage. Satellites have been sent to the space to enable to monitor the area and send the message concurrently (Doğan & Oze, 2019) receive information from different devices connected to it. This information is used for various decisions making not only for economic purposes but also for the social development of individuals that use the information. Communication is very vital in the digital age, where it clarifies issues and enables for peaceful co-existence (Forte et al., 2014; Hearns-Branaman, 2009; Lister, 2008). Lack of communication in today's interconnected world causes misunderstanding and, in most cases, leads to the collapse of the nation in economics wise. Technology plays a significant part as a medium through which business networks are built. The free access to information hastens the travel of these messages.
The new media makes it possible for different countries to collaborate with. This is needed for the growth of any nation. Different new media can link different aspects of solving local and international issues. Countries have invested in the latest technology for their economic stability. They are now using different platforms to share and seek information that is vital for their economic development. Various new media enhance this context by giving comprehensive platforms for issue-based solutions. Application for monitoring stock markets, booking flights, fighting terrorism, and sharing such intelligence is currently widely utilized by both the developing world and their counter developed ones (Doğan & Oze, 2019). This has made it possible to solve a common problem by using various human resource capacities, professionalism, and skills which are shared virtually. New media capacities in handling such vast resources ensure that solutions to issues are addressed in real-time (Friedman & Friedman, 2008; Mansell, 2004; Thorhauge & Helles, 2013).
The shared community in new media is developed to ensure that anyone using them, feel that their needs are catered for. The emergence of various online communities like Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, WeChat, and twitter creates a sense for individuals and corporations to find them in the community that they have a collective identity (Hearns-Branaman, 2009). Persons and corporations do not work and live in oblivion. Still, they seek communities to be able to satisfy their needs not only socially, but also as an economic necessity in the case of the corporations. Therefore, these communities give them an avenue to share, re-share, and get a sense of belongingness as indicated by the Maslow theorem of hierarchical needs. As new media continues to offer this spectrum, many vital needs are met as new communities are built while the old ones are reorganized. Consequently, there is a tendency of individuals to be indifferent communities at once, which again create subgroups and micro-communities (Van Couvering, 2017). All this is for the purpose of fulfillment of their needs.
In recent years, political economies of Media Corporation have taken into new media specifically for creativity purposes. Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, and Tik Tok are used to create information, media products as well as messages that are commodified for commercial purposes (Hearns-Branaman, 2009; Mansell, 2004; Van Couvering, 2017). Short videos that target specific individuals, as well as organizations, are designed for these purposes. Creativity in the new media age is a tool for economic gains while fostering the advantage of their community syndrome. Because of the communities that are in collaboration, sharing, and communicating these messages make it very easy to reach a wide geographical area. The “Datafication” of the participants, either humans or machines, Doğan and Oze (2019) swiftly makes it possible for the exploitation of and creation of new financial ventures due to the economy of scales. It is easy to explore business in areas where data and the needs of the individuals are already identified.
The new media convergence has paved the way for a flat space for communication and receivership of the message. The diversity of ownership has led to different accessibility of information by different groups. The communicative characteristic of the new media, which can integrate interpersonal and mass media, has brought about opinions from different political economies groups (Mansell, 2004). The era of media convergence has shaken the authoritative position of the old media and leveraged on the aspect of the intertwining to reduce the cost of production and spread of information. For instance, a platform such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other platforms that work in the same way are currently converged into a single plater for easier access to information. News economies have taken this to their advantage of maximizing profit and minimizing costs of production (Doğan & Oze, 2019). Following this, convergence has intertwined itself in all the elements of new media that not only include creativity but as a conveyor belt of communication, creation of communities and collaboration.
The political economy of new media is the ability of the concentration of power to manipulate and promote access to maximize profits or raise the economic scales of the few capitalists’ owners. The materialist grasp of the ownership of these new media creates a dysfunction space for scarcity on production and consumption (Doğan & Oze, 2019; Forte et al., 2014; Thorhauge & Helles, 2013). The continued scarcity of the reproduction and consumption of information in the new media has created economic power imbalances. In most cases, the underlying factors for this are not only limited to the governance but also on laws and regulations that have been put forth by states or the dominant owners. Individual’s lives are mediated and dictated by the new media, Doğan and Oze (2019) changes in their structural governance affect the scope and scale of their services or information supply. This fundamental governance creates scarcity conditions that contribute to the reproduction of unequal economic, social, and political conditions. Inequalities are reproduced and naturalized in the political economies of new media in different ways. Copyright is the property right in the text, music, films, performance, or other applications developed by an individual or an organization. The use of copyright limits the reproduction of contents that could be used by broader consumers where they are required to incur original costs (Forte et al., 2014). Original owners may miss out on the royalties when different commercial-minded individuals appropriate their works. For instance, in contrast with films where they were difficult to pirate, the new media technologies hastened this characteristic of piracy. Therefore, copyrighted materials (Van Couvering, 2017) have been confined in the laws to avoid instances of misuse of patents and trademarks where disputes erupt. Although the older media copyright is already determined, it is, therefore, essential to protect the intellectual property rights of the traditional media producers because of their economic and source of income. New media has given rise to the creation of different materials over the internet. The vast consumers and massive of such kind of content have led to an increase in the control of access (Thorhauge & Helles, 2013). The new media economics targets this venture by not addressing the single broad audience but by concentrating on the minority interest that the internet can support. The global networks currently are being policed while passwords, firewalls, and accessibility rights, as well as equipment efficiency and availability of the bandwidths, limit the free-roaming on the internet by the consumers. All these, the dispersed, networked media sphere with the quantitative data storage, manipulation, and shift have changed the production and forms in both the reception and use of the media information (Van Couvering, 2017). The selectivity control is “de-massified” in the development of various scales and complexities in the weave and nestles of the new media. Currently, the development of asymmetrical decentralized networks has transformed and promoted the obsolescence of media and communication processes. The role of the new media in the political economies has shifted from majorly regulation but to provide an opportunity for the users to generate their contents (Forte et al., 2014; Friedman & Friedman, 2008; Van Couvering, 2017). The strategy is ensuring that there is a vast amount of information that can be sourced when needed. Therefore, it renders others useless as they keep on being produced. For instance, the advent of Facebook has rendered Myspace inconsumable. Information overload hastened the inability to figure out the most valuable piece. The tendency of creation of clickbait to lure consumers to what is essential information propagates attached economic values in them. Datafication on individual appeals has changed the way business is done online, with a vast amount of marketing and adverts fading out momentarily.
The political economies of new media have bundled up services that cannot be accessed easily but only with the use of payments. The payments are constructive in a way that is needed for connectivity, in terms of infrastructure and the internet to access the platforms. People without technological capacities are rendered unfavorable (Doğan & Oze, 2019). The audience in this platform is crafted and sold to the highest bidder by favoring some kinds of new media over others. Commercial corporations take this advantage to sell their products and services unanimously to the unsuspecting consumers. Political messages take center stage in the dynamics of new media pervaded with the relation of power that infrequently comes to light in the vast majority.
This article has articulated the various ways in which the political economies of new media strategize in ensuring that they continue to manipulate the consumers. Individual data are utilized for commercial purposes by political economies creating a power shift in the capitalist systems. There is pressure toward the commodification of new media with a focus on effectively creating commercial interest and ensuring the complex process of acquisition of information from the consumers. The influence on the spread of the new media has raised interest in the commercial need for the successful development of dominant business corporations that have taken advantage to explore all the opportunities in the market. The primary focus in this discourse is pegged in the interaction between different cultures, interest in business, significant political, and economic powers over the new media. Therefore, this paper argues that there is a need for reassurance of amassing of awareness into the way power is entrenched in new media practices and the way this influences how new media are intermediating people's lives. The solution to this could provide the alternative usage of open source software that is visible and feasible for all. There is a need to foster for quality and authenticity of the opens source because of their nature of massive production without proper regulations.
Funding: This study received no specific financial support.
Competing Interests: The author declares that there are no conflicts of interests regarding the publication of this paper.
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