By Lim San
Korea International School, JejuBelow is a winning essay from The Herald-Pioneer Essay Contest. -- Ed.
Globalization refers to the ongoing unification and interdependence of the globe in the various areas of politics, economic trade, society, culture, information, and technology. Globalization has opened the gate towards global trade and sharing unprecedented amounts of data, primarily through the growth of technology. With trade and travel, people around the globe can look and feel the other cultures that they were never able to experience before. But significantly, globalization through information has made it possible for the world to be interdependent and interconnected, free from time and national boundaries. However, albeit globalization’s immense benefits, globalization has also adversely affected how humanity perceives information, especially with the advent of disinformation and misinformation. In this regard, it is paramount for global leaders to take more robust measures against the global social fragmentation caused by dis/misinformation and grow the abilities for civil societies to combat the perils caused by fake news.
Storytellers, letters, newspapers, radios, television news, and social media are the mediums for the spread of information have evolved throughout centuries, especially after the invention of the world wide web. Before the Internet, information was mostly spread through televisions or newspapers. Such mediums were a one-sided transfer of information, as information was processed by news agencies and broadcasted to the public. But as the Internet was established, social media created a two-way network of communication and knowledge exchange. The development of the Internet and social media allowed faster dissemination of information and conducted beneficial social movements.
The aforementioned advantage of social media has significantly affected political movements worldwide. Before information globalization, people could only get information about politicians and candidates through newspapers or television. In 2022, presidential candidates and their parties actively use social media to effectively reach out to young voters and generate the most significant political impact. The Recent Presidential Election in South Korea has spotlighted the use of social media. According to Hankook Ilbo, The People’s Power Party was especially effective in utilizing social media, gaining over 60% of voters in their 20s and 30s during the election round. Social media also impacts societal movements. Social media is playing an essential role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as the social media posts of civilians on the ground fill the gaps before war correspondents can reach the warzone. Ukrainians and their political leaders have utilized social media to convey their messages of defiance and inform people around the world about what is happening in Ukraine. The incorporation of social media has redefined the global perception of the war, generating a global wave of support towards innocent civilians involved in the war.
Despite the aforementioned positive social impacts of social media, disinformation, misinformation, and fake news have risen as a serious problem. For example, during the war between Ukraine and Russia, the U.S Department of State issued a warning that several Russian military and intelligence institutions were involved in the malicious spread of disinformation and propaganda targeting Ukraine. For instance, the Russian Defense Chief stated that the United States has planned chemical weapons attacks against the Russian forces in the Donbas region of Ukraine, which was false and unsubstantiated information.2 Dis/misinformation has become a major social problem, misleading people with exaggerated or provocative information to attract attention. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, when asked to explain why respondents believe social media harms the United States, three out of ten respondents viewed misinformation as the most negative impact of social media in American society. The spread of fake news and charged propaganda with malicious intent has caused deeply divided social fragmentation, which causes political polarization between those with opposing political regimes or views.
Thus, filtering false information will be an essential task to maximize the benefits and decrease the detrimental effects of information globalization. The tremendous amount of information available on the Internet and the emergence of fake news emphasize the need for critical thinking. To prevent spreading fake news, objective consideration, cross-check, and comparison of online information will be paramount, which global leaders should focus on to educate their citizens. Furthermore, an important step in minimizing political polarization would be establishing stricter regulations for social media services to stop using user preferences when providing news articles and posts. It would allow users to expose themselves to opposing viewpoints and make much more informed decisions.
Global communication technology has changed the way people work, broadened the global information database, and created various opportunities to bring people and cultures closer together. The Internet is one of the most influential innovations that provide individuals with limitless access to information and entertainment. However, the advent of fake news and dis/misinformation is the biggest problem that global networks will have to cross to promote the healthy circulation of global information. Thus, global leaders will have to keep the perils of fake news and propaganda in mind for continued globalization and help people make the most informed decisions when perceiving information from global social media.The Herald-Pioneer Essay Contest was organized by The Korea Herald and Pioneer Academics. This essay was submitted to and selected by the Pioneer Academics Research Program, the world’s only fully-accredited online research program for high school students. The essay was reviewed by Mr. Brian Cooper, who was the former the director of Duke University’s Talent Identification Program (TIP), and currently leads the Research & Development department at Pioneer Academics. The Pioneer Academics Research Program has world’s only online academic system that is trusted and recognized by the most selective universities and colleges.
By Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org