How manipulative is the media these days?

2 min
Tags: Manipulation Distraction Media manipulation bubbles algorithms disinformation Fake News

The question of manipulation by the media is more relevant today than ever before. In a world where information can be disseminated globally in a matter of seconds, it is crucial to understand the methods and effects of media manipulation. 

Media manipulation refers to various strategies and techniques used by media companies, political groups and other organizations to influence public opinion and promote certain agendas. 

Manipulation techniques: Distraction

A common tactic of media manipulation is distraction. The public's attention is diverted from important issues by flooding the news with stories about trivial topics. If you find a lead story about Duchess Kate's current state of health in a prominent position on page 1, you may overlook an announced tax increase that is well hidden on page 3. The distraction causes people to stop asking critical questions and forget the real problems. 

Another method of manipulation is the creation of a problem, followed by a reaction and the immediate presentation of a solution, which is packaged in such a way that the manipulators are celebrated as heroes. 

Graduism - preparation for social injustice

Gradualism is another technique in which people are slowly and gradually brought to accept socially unjust decisions. A practical example is a well-known company that aims to lay off a large part of its workforce. Negative news about a slump in sales, poor management decisions and stock market rumors give the public the impression that the company is in such a bad economic situation that redundancies are unavoidable. If the redundancies had been communicated proactively from the outset, there would have been an outcry of indignation among the population. 

Media manipulation: the role of social media

Social media offer platforms for the exchange of ideas and opinions, but can also be used to manipulate users. This manipulation can be subtle or obvious and ranges from influencing public opinion to changing the behavior of users. One of the main tools of manipulation in social media are algorithms that determine what content is displayed to users. These algorithms often prioritize content that elicits emotional responses, as these are more likely to lead to interactions such as likes, comments and shares. 

Disinformation and fake news are further problems that are exacerbated by social media. False information spreads quickly and can influence people's opinions and decisions. Echo bubbles and filter bubbles arise when users are only confronted with opinions and information that reflect their own views. This can lead to a narrowing of the world view and make users more susceptible to manipulation. 

Media manipulation is well disguised

Media manipulation is almost never obvious. It usually comes well disguised and can rarely be identified at first glance. Many people don't realize that newspapers, podcasts, online platforms, TV and radio broadcasts sometimes use manipulation techniques to influence the subconscious of the audience, especially politically. This is dangerous as it subconsciously manipulates people's opinions and undermines democracy. 

Conclusion: Media is a powerful tool that can be used for both good and bad. It is up to critical consumers to question the sources of their information, to bring diversity to media consumption and to make themselves aware of how media can influence our perception of the world.