Yasser Abdel-Aziz’ 8 Trends That Will Shape Media In 2019

With the fourth industrial revolution, the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) and use of social media platforms by individuals, much is impacting both media organizations and governments. Columnist and media expert Yasser Abdel-Aziz takes note of the most important developments affecting media worldwide.

Drawing attention to the role of social media in promoting not only violence and hate speech but also promoting crime by live streaming terrorist attacks such as in the case of the violence in Christchurch, New Zealand, Mr Abdel-Aziz expects the government to enforce more control over social media platforms.

Citing this as the first trend, he pointed out to Japan receiving a written request from Australia to arrange talks on tightening social media controls at the Group of 20 Summit in Osaka in June. He asserted that the alarming increase in hate speech on social media will encourage governments to establish a legal framework to tighten control on social media.

The second trend that will influence media this year is the increasing use of AI. He said that Xin Xiaomeng, the lifelike robot news anchor that was used by China’s Xinhua news agency, triggered a wave in the Middle East and more Arab news agencies and TV channels are using robots and AI.

Mr Abdel-Aziz said the third trend is the ‘deepfake’, an AI-based technique for human image synthesis. It is used to combine and superimpose existing images and videos onto source images or videos using a machine learning technique. He said researchers expect deepfake to threaten personal privacy in general.

He quoted the increase in advertising spend on social media platforms as the fourth trend. Ad spends are expected to shift dramatically from TV to social media.

Delving further on this, the trend continues as Magna expects digital advertising to account for 50 percent of the total advertising market.

The sixth trend is on the continuation of duopoly in global advertising. Led by Google and Facebook, both of which are prominent in the region as well, Mr Abdel-Aziz does not see any change in this in the year ahead despite the slew of issues that the two platforms have faced.

The seventh trend is for large media companies to invest more in their social media platforms. The investment is not only to attract more followers but also to generate income as an outcome of the exercise.

The final trend is around governments continuing to use social media as an important strategic tool to communicate with public.

Mr Abdel-Aziz made these comments during the recently concluded Arab Media Forum 2019.

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