Posted: 03.01.2024 18:59:00

Focus on the subconscious

Social networks will try to penetrate even deeper into the minds of users in the coming year

Anyone who once predicted the imminent death of social media was short-sighted. After social networks adapt to new political and legislative realities, experts predict another breakthrough in content development. Thanks to progress in the field of artificial intelligence technologies, as well as the business course towards an individual approach to each user. However, first things first.

The President of Belarus,
Aleksandr  Lukashenko,

“The rapid development of communications and communications, electronic media and social networks has radically changed the lives of people on our planet. Opportunities for the economy and social sphere, simply communication, have expanded, but at the same time the world and the person himself have become more vulnerable. It is no coincidence that the phrase ‘information war’ has become firmly entrenched in our vocabulary. Media workers and specialists who ensure the operation of communication systems are, in fact, at the forefront of the information front, where there is an uncompromising battle for the minds and souls of people. There is no way we can lose to those who intend to abolish our history and culture, and at the same time the state itself and the Belarusian people.”

From congratulations to workers in the field of information and communications on professional holidays — Press Day and Radio, Television and Communications Workers’ Day, May 5th, 2022

On the wave of stable demand

Social networks continue to strengthen their leadership positions in the field of continuous content generation. By adapting to the needs and interests of the audience, they are mostly highly profitable .
Even the long-suffering network X (formerly Twitter) of billionaire Elon Musk, which was recently boycotted by many advertisers, seems to have earned about $2.5 billion from advertising contracts by the end of 2023. Three times less than the level of 2021, but still.

The largest social network in Russia and the CIS countries, VKontakte, showed an increase of 22 percent based on the results of 9 months of 2023. The main source of revenue is online advertising. Over the 10 years of its existence, Telegram has acquired more than 800 million active users. Its founder Pavel Durov recently announced that a paid subscription to the extended version of Telegram Premium is the fastest growing messaging app in history. And according to the latest data from application analytics provider, TikTok, which is extremely popular among young Belarusians, has become the first non-gaming mobile application with a turnover of $10 billion.
With the economics of social networks, everything is more or less clear. But there are traditionally questions about the content. Because these platforms often gain popularity from noise and hype.
We won’t look far for examples. Recently the same TikTok summed up the year by publishing a list of the most popular clips posted on this platform. The primitive rules. The first place in the ranking of global trending content was taken by a video with a border collie Kate herding sheep. In second position is a recipe for sausages with cheese in bread. On the third — TikTok to the hit track ‘Capybara’.
As for fakes on social networks, they are each other’s eternal companions. Interesting information for the post-Soviet space: the All-Russian interdepartmental competence center in the field of Internet communications ‘Dialogue’ claims that the largest number of fakes are now recorded in the Telegram messenger.
“The share of fake publications on the messenger platform increased by 90.6 percent compared to 2022,” the Dialog message, prepared for the Dialogue on Fake Forum held in Moscow in November says.
One thing is good: according to the same source, the average life expectancy of fakes in 2023 decreased by about 22 hours and amounted to 4 days (details in the infographic). The leading mechanism for creating fakes remains ‘deliberate disinformation’. There is also a gradual increase in the number of such messages created using artificial intelligence (AI) content synthesis tools.
By the way, those who are tired of social networks are more likely to trust misinformation than everyone else. 
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) and the University of California at Davis (USA) recently came to this conclusion after conducting a large-scale study. So there is no way to ignore social media in the near future: if you don’t monitor the content, then the latter will do whatever it wants with your consciousness. And this cannot be allowed.

Shorter and simpler

One of the obvious trends is the emphasis on short videos. Google ‘s bet on promoting YouTube Shorts has fully justified itself: back in June, the format’s monthly audience crossed the mark of 2 billion users. This allowed the company to catch up and overtake its main competitor — TikTok.
Social networks will also be forced to find a balance between the authenticity of information and a product created using artificial intelligence. It will be more difficult for users: AI is now on the rise, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish the product of the brain activity of real people from that generated by machines.
 According to some reports, the use of AI for image editing may more than double.

We have to fight for the truth

The problem of cyber aggression in the digital environment is more relevant today than ever, and social networks do not remain aloof from it. The range of their attacks on the brains of users is wide — from imposing communication to intimidation and bullying.
In Belarus, the fight against aggression and fakes from social networks is an important state task, the implementation of which we have been working closely on for several years. One of the important components is the clear and coordinated activities of traditional media, primarily state ones.
By the way, the need for such measures was discussed by the participants of the V World Media Summit held in Guangzhou (South China) in December.
The event, organized by the Chinese news agency Xinhua, was attended by representatives of 197 media from 101 countries, including Belarus. At the summit, a joint statement was adopted by the participants on the fight against disinformation and cooperation in the field of new technologies.
The topic was continued in the middle of the month, already at the republican level, by Information Minister Vladimir Pertsov. Speaking at the X Forum of Young Journalists “Journalism Today: Territory of Responsibility”, he recalled that the work of traditional media and ideologists is actively hampered by media-like bloggers , social network activists, as well as specially created and imitating media structures:
“Our opponents are pursuing an aggressive information policy to win the hearts and minds of young people who, scrolling through their social media feeds , cannot always separate truth from untruth. This situation is especially dangerous now, when speed prevails over quality, over fact-checking [preliminary verification of information]...
Young people only realise after the fact that they fell for fakes planted by their favorite pseudo-blogger or another influencer to whom young people are subscribed in the messenger or social networks. Our task is to prevent this from happening.
The ongoing struggle for truthful information, including on social networks, is another trend for 2024.

By Aleksandr Nesterov