Growth and development of digital media in relation to the effect it has human life has necessitated the need to explain how information found in the online domain can be accessed, evaluated, and utilized. In the process of accessing and utilizing digital media content, there is need for users to understand the legal, social and the economic implications of such content. This is because there are internet applications that play an important role in influencing human behavior. This makes it important for the members of the society to understand the social, political, and economic essence of the information that they access. For example, research from the American Medical Association indicate that there are more people in the United States who seek medical advice on digital platforms rather than actually vising health professionals (Graham & Metaxas, 2010). This is an indication that the number of people using the internet is currently rising and there is need for the society to consider different aspects that define the operationalization of information-acquired from this source.
The main objective of this paper is to assess ways through which information from digital media can be analyzed to ensure that the information acquired through digital media is authentic and verifiable.
Credibility in digital media
The explosion of content in digital media and easy access to digital devices, is responsible for the current proliferation of more information available to the society online than at any time in the history of man. Basic human activities, such as the processes through people are able to organize, locate, and engage in the coordination of groups of individuals who share common interests have been made relatively easier (Liu & Huang, 2010). This is an indication that through the development and growth of social media, there are incredible opportunities that can facilitate learning, political, and socio-political growth and development within the society. In the United States, since the popularity of digital media, about 45% percent of online users argue that the devices have been influential decision-making platforms (Graham & Metaxas, 2010). In addition, digital media has also enhanced the levels of connectivity and information gathering because it has not only increased knowledge in terms of what people know but also the techniques through which they access what they claim to understand.
Despite the perceived popularity of digital media in matters related to information access and sharing, the multiplicity sources that provide vast information make the process of accessing the credibility of information gathered through digital media highly complex. This is because digital media allows different individuals to post information and the said information is often easily accessible to the users of different digital media platforms (Graham & Metaxas, 2010). The fact that it is possible to post information anonymously makes it difficult for the users to understand information in terms of its origin, quality, and veracity. The unpatrolled implication in this case is that individuals accessing the information have the burden of locating the most appropriate information, and ensuring that they assess its relevance and meaning using the most accurate approach (Hong, 2010). Undertaking the reasonability of assessing the credibility of information acquired from digital media is highly consequential considering that the use of inaccurate procedures in assessing information credibility may result in adverse legal, social, financial and health consequences. The implication in this case is that the determination of trust, level of believability and information bias is critical in credibility. The evaluation process becomes more critical when individual users process information affecting their lives gathered from digital media (Liu & Huang, 2010).
Digital media credibility and effects on political, social, economic and legal matters
Understanding the credibility of information from digital media is also essential because the information in this context cuts across social, legal, economic, political, and personal domains. For instance, information from digital media may result or fail to result in an informed citizenry. This may drive the pursuit of specific social agenda, the nature, and the degree of engagement in public discourse and in the determination of the direction of public policy (Graham & Metaxas, 2010). Furthermore, because of high prevalence of the interaction process on different social platforms, personal and social identities are often established through computer-edited programs, which is an indication that the credibility of the sources of information is no longer determined or sustained by face-to-face interactions nor through an endorsement of those known to the individual. Despite the seemingly disappearing essence of information credibility, it remains an essential component in the persuasion and in the decision making process. This affects of spheres of life from consumer choices in purchasing products to the selection of a political candidate based on the information provided (Liu & Huang, 2010).
It is notable that the process of ensuring that an individual has access to credible information is highly essential in the political, economic, or social aspects of life. This is because an informer has a legal obligation towards other members of the society. It is therefore illegal to input falsity as part of information provided due to the possibility of misleading the public. It is important for users of digital media to verify the credibility of the information they receive before using this information in other platforms (Graham & Metaxas, 2010). This is because of the underlying implications especially when the said information threatens societal cohesion, political stability and the levels of social interaction in any society. The people responsible for communicating any form of information that damages the levels of cohesion or political stability of any society must be held criminally responsible for the consequences of his actions as defined in the legal procedures of his society.
In the contemporary society, the youth are an interesting group to consider in matters related to credibility of digital media. This is because they form a large percentage of digital media users. Furthermore, the current generation of youth shares a different relationship with information technology and sources of information. The generation of the youth, which is known with different terms such as “Generation Y” and “Digital Natives” share, features of being highly involved in matters of digital technology (Liu & Huang, 2010). Their description as digital natives in a land of digital immigrants has generated into the development of different expectations on how to gather, use, share, and translate information. Compared to the older generation, the youth are more likely to use digital media in conducting their research activities and for personal use. This makes digital media the primary source of information among most of the youth. The close relationship between the youth and digital media highly affects their approach to research and learning (Graham & Metaxas, 2010).
As the first generation to grow in a highly interactive virtual environment, the youth have developed some level of comfort in sharing and collaboration of information. They use digital media to act in a way that allows for relatively quicker access to information without too much red tape, as it is the common norm in most bureaucratic settings (Hong, 2010). This approach to the use of digital media possesses profound implications on matters of construction and assessment of credibility. The interactive nature of digital media has made it the responsibility of most of the youth in the society to play the role of information providers and recipients. The implication of this approach to accessing information makes is in their simultaneous role of critiquing, altering, remixing, and sharing information in the moist controversial manner through digital media. To this extent, the use of digital technology as the most favorable platform of receiving and sending information presents challenges especially in relation to the desire by the users to prove the credibility and authenticity of such information (Liu & Huang, 2010).
Despite these realities, the process of examining the relationship between the youth and digital media has often been crude. This is because much of the analysis often focuses on the travesty of generation gap. These examinations have often portrayed the youth as technologically adept compared to the adult population. Such portrayals do not focus on the most essential and enduring by-products of too much reliance on digital media (Graham & Metaxas, 2010). An outstanding impact of such level of reliance on digital media is that much of the information that define different aspects of the life of man in society is assembled, filtered, provided and presented by sources that in most cases are foreign and largely unknown to the recipients of the information. The need to conduct an in depth analysis of different sources of information of the digital platform is because of the level of immersion in digital media by the youth and its effects on their perception of research and the environment (Liu & Huang, 2010).
In matters of credibility and the use of digital media, the youth have a highly intriguing population in terms of the perceived tension between their technical and social immersion and the skills with digital tools coupled with their inherent limitation owed to limited experience in technological matters (Hong, 2010). There are those who have been socialized in an environment saturated with digital media technologies. Such individuals often possess the skills and abilities to enable these individuals to apply technology in accessing, consuming and generating information. This perspective of the youth asserts that in matters of their relationship with tools of digital media, the youth are in an effective position, which provides them with a technique of successfully navigating the relatively complex digital media platform (Danielson et al, 2003). Despite the presence of youth socialized around digital media, there are also youth in the society who can be perceived as inhibited in terms of their emotive and cognitive capabilities, experiences in life and level of familiarity in the operationalization of digital media apparatus. According to this assumption, inasmuch as youth are comfortable users of the available technology, they at times lack relevant tools and skills that can ensure that the information they seek and acquire is relevant, credible, and authentic (Liu & Huang, 2010).
The process of understanding web-based credibility is heavily dependent on the distinctions that exist between different sources of information. Primarily, credibility of information and its sources is dependent on the level of expertise, dynamism, trustworthiness, and sociability. This means that it is possible for digital media platforms to be questioned in matters of credibility considering that they operate on the web environment (Graham & Metaxas, 2010). The consideration of digital media platforms such as websites sources with greater or lesser levels of credibility indicates the existence of a probability of translating numerous components of source credibility to the internet. It is possible to communicate to experts through the accurate and comprehensive nature of website information. Websites, which form an essential part of digital media often operate based on trust. The policy statement of website often communicates the extent and the type of advertisements that the owners of digital media allow (Hong, 2010).
Other than the attractive and the dynamic nature of a website, message credibility in relation to digital media allows for the examination of information attributes, which influence the level of believability. On the digital platform, elements that can be used in the assessments of message credibility include the structure, language, and content of the message and the mode of delivery (Liu & Huang, 2010). Inasmuch as there is insufficient research on matters related to message credibility on the online platform, internet users have often implemented a similar approach to understanding the content of a message. Different aspects of scrutiny such as level of accuracy, the availability of evidence, comprehensiveness, and citations take precedence over all the other elements in affecting the perception of consumers of online information. Structural attributes of information derived from digital media such as their level of organization and the methodology used in the delivery of the message affect the approach used in credibility assessments (Liu & Huang, 2010).
For information to be proved as authentic, it is important to consider the credibility of the media. According to studies on cross media comparisons, it is important to assess the authentic nature of a message based on the channel used for communication (Hong, 2010). While it is possible to perceive traditional mass media channels, such as newspapers as highly authentic and credible than the internet, the credible nature of the latter lies on its ability to provide instant and relevant information to a consumer. This means that digital media has the ability of proving a plethora of messages on any particular issue. However, it is the responsibility of the user to consider the message to accept as credible (Danielson et al, 2003).
Challenges in realizing digital media credibility
The existence of an overlap between various dimensions of credibility makes it relatively difficult for consumers of information from digital media to distinguish the differences between the source of the message and the channels of receiving the information. This is especially common in the contemporary digital media environment which offers, which offers an astonishing, amount of information from variety of media, channels from a collection of providers (Graham & Metaxas, 2010). Furthermore, there is also a high level of variance in the perceptions of credibility between different people and digital media platforms websites. This is largely because of their dynamic nature and the type of information that they provide. The evolution of the users in relation to their experiences and the level of skills in accessing and using websites as sources of information has made it relatively easier for the development of an understanding of societal expectations on the type of information available in different media sources (Liu & Huang, 2010). Websites, for example, are currently considered as marketing platforms for companies, organizations, and even individuals. Blogs communicate specific messages and can be used by anyone who has the capacity and content to write about. Social networking sites also serve the purpose of interaction while other platforms, such as emails have been used in the society to communicate information that is more official. These are the ideal roles that these platforms of digital media play in relation to the expectations of the society. However, the existence of an overlap between the source, the medium, and the credibility of the message overlap in different instances making it relatively difficult to develop a clear distinction in relation to digital media credibility. The perceived difficult in the development of a clear distinction underscores the complex nature of credibility in the contemporary digital media environment (Danielson et al, 2003).
For effective credibility of information from digital sources to be realized, it would be important to embrace accounting at different levels to ensure that the divergent elements defining digital media and the forms of information that are available are correctly identified (Liu & Huang, 2010). The success and the efficiency of digital media in the contemporary society arises from its ability to allow for easy connection of individuals due to a reduction in the cost of communication and an increase in the platforms that allow for information sharing (Hong, 2010). Despite this level of connectivity, digital media users often appear as isolated appraisers of communication. However, it is possible for groups with common interests to engage in social endorsements of information on the digital media platforms. Such an approach to dissemination of information is crucial in validating the credibility of information. This is however considered a possibility in a small group where members know one another (Danielson et al, 2003).
In larger societies, however, social endorsement may only work with segments of the society considering the existence of diverse thoughts and approaches to understanding information. In such situations, credibility of information from digital media may be conferred when it is from reputable organizations and agencies, which have the ability of producing and recommending elements such as information repositories (Liu & Huang, 2010). For instance, in learning institutions, teachers have the responsibility of conferring information credibility on the databases made available to their students. For the health practitioners, credibility is often conferred to the websites and webpages that they recommend to their patients. This approach to conferring credibility to digital media sources is only posed in situations where authorities involved use their area of expertise as advantage to approve digital media resource (Hong, 2010).
The difficulty in approving credibility of digital media presents novel challenges for information consumers considering the possible shift of the role of information evaluation from professionals to individual information consumers. In availability of professionals to ensure high quality control standards, context ambiguity, and other aspects related to information credibility from digital media often affects the type of information received from these sources of information (Graham & Metaxas, 2010).
Basic human activities, such as the processes through which people are able to organize, locate, and engage in the coordination of groups of individuals who share common interests have been made relatively easier. In matters of credibility and the use of digital media, the youth have become a highly intriguing population in terms of the perceived tension between their technical and social immersion and the skills with digital tools coupled with their inherent limitation owed to limited experience in technological matters. The difficulty in approving credibility of digital media presents novel challenges for information consumers considering the possible shift of the role of information evaluation from professionals to individual information consumers.
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