Enabling Future Social Media

In spring 2017, the Vital Media project and the NEM Initiative launched a set of activities, in order to engage the European media community and involve its members in discussions about future of the social media and possible European role in the global social media arena. The advocating for the needed activities on social media has been initiated through publication of a call for action “Towards the Future of Social Media”, seeking for needed contributions and actions from the broad European media community. Furthermore, the topic of the future social media was included in the program of the NEM Summit 2017 by organizing a special session with a call for extended abstract on subject of the future social media, inviting several key-note speakers on this topic, and organizing panel discussions at the event and other occasions.

In accordance with the received inputs and outcomes of discussions mentioned above, a White Paper “Towards the Future Social Media” was created and published in December 2017. Based on the White Paper, the Vital Media project, in cooperation with the NEM Steering Board, worked on a deeper analysis of the topics identified in the White Paper and finalized a publication “Enabling Future Social Media”, in June 2018, which is now available for broad audience. This publication elaborates on several aspects of the future social media, identified in the White Paper;

  • Data protection,
  • Trust,
  • New areas in social media, and
  • Business and cooperation models.

The data protection issues are handled by considering processes for management of user data and options for ensuring data portability in social media. Ensuring trust in the social media is considered through elaboration on possible solutions to implement efficient fact-checking tools and impose appropriate regulation means for the social media. Social IoT, as specific kind of the social media interactions is elaborated, followed by a consideration of business models and collaborative workflows for the future social media.

The Vital Media project and the NEM Initiative consider all the four aspects presented above as crucial for future development in the social media, in particular in the European social media landscape, where obviously there is a need to increase level of activities needed to get into a position to become a significant player in the world-wide social media eco-system at the same level as the today’s main global players are already acting.

Call for Action – White Paper “Towards the Future Sociual Media”

The New European Media (NEM) Initiative is taking an action to elaborate a vision “The Future of Social Media”; opportunities and challenges for European industry and society at large, needed research and innovation actions to achieve the Vision, as well as required activities in standardization, regulatory, and policy arenas.

What is and how will the future social media look like, how we are going to get there, and what has to be done to enable the future Social Media? Probably the largest research and innovation community of in area of media and content in Europe organized within the NEM Initiative will elaborate inputs to answer these questions within a coordinated action among the community members and beyond, which will be supported by the Vital Media project of the Horizon 2020 EU research and innovation program.

To do so, the NEM Steering Board already worked out an initial vision on “The Future of Social Media”, which was discussed with all NEM members and other stakeholders around the European media landscape interested to participate. At the NEM Summit 2017, the 10th edition of the NEM annual conference and exhibition held in Madrid, Spain, on 29/30 November 2017, the discussion was further enlarged through a number of presentations, invited talks, and open discussions. Results of this activity are summarized in a white paper, aiming at identifying the next steps towards the future of social media, including required research and innovation activities in the next period to achieve the defined goals, as well as related standardization, regulatory, and policy actions. The white paper will provide a base for further detailed elaboration of all these aspects which will be detailed in due course throughout 2018.

Background and time plan

The New European Media (NEM) Initiative is taking an action to elaborate a vision “The Future of Social Media”; opportunities and challenges for European industry and society at large, needed research and innovation actions to achieve the Vision, as well as required activities in standardization, regulatory, and policy arenas.

Social Media used to be defined as a set of computer-mediated technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, and other forms of content and applications via so-called virtual communities taking advantage of modern network and communications infrastructures. Social media uses web-based technologies to create a variety of interactive platforms through which individuals and communities can share, create, modify, and discuss different types of information and digital content which is available in the global Internet landscape. The most popular social media established today are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Viber, WhatsApp, Snapchat, WeChat, YouTube, a number of related services applications provided by Google, etc.

It can be stated that during last one-two decades the social media applications introduced significant changes to way people communicate, as well as businesses, and more over entire communities organized through common interests. Moreover, the recent developments in Internet and communications technologies, media and entertainment sectors, as well as many other spheres of professional activities and life show that social media becomes is a standard part of different services and applications offered to people through a variety of communication and consumer devices; computers, tablets, smart phones, smart watches, etc. Furthermore, so-called classical media services, such as broadcasting and even traditional “paper” based media, are more and more introducing and using various social media technologies, to improve the overall user experience and further extend their offers and businesses.

Just few examples from everyday life: State of the art TV channels are providing additional information and features (e.g. interactivity) by applying the social media technologies; Nowadays when organizing a live audience event (sport, concert, etc.) it becomes a must to use social media in different ways (to inform, to sell tickets, to guide spectators to the event venue, to provide background information, to interact with the audience, etc.), Nowadays, we are searching by using different search engines and in the future we might get suggestion on the search from the members of a broad Social Media community.

Finally, the Social Media is currently being used to infer social behavior and derive tendencies, in combination with the big-data analysis tools. Its capabilities are tremendous to obtain information about the acceptance of a new product or service, identification of needs, or even the determination of ways to influence particular social acts and events. A practical example of the above ideas is the still open question of whether social media, in combination with big-data tools, influence world-wide elections or not.

Furthermore, a concern about digital competition is acute in Europe because quite often digital markets and the Social Media platforms are dominated by few, big and foreign companies, accumulating volumes of exclusive operating data on their platforms and services and using it as the raw material for artificial intelligence or machine learning could have an insuperable competitive advantage over new entrants. Users gain good services, and often free of charge, from such platforms but there are also some potential drawbacks; e.g. using a predominant position to collect data (even improper), keeping that data exclusive in order to maintain monopoly power, which even might obstruct further innovations and creation of new ideas, or using it to prevent customer to change the platform providers. Therefore, from the competition point of view it is also desirable to ensure Personal Data and Profile Portability in the future Social Media services.

We can conclude that in the near future it will be more and more difficult to distinguish among traditional media, if we may say so, and social media. Where is or will be the border between traditional media and social media (e.g. shift from off-line to on-line media) as well as the border between social media and any future type of service or application, or will there be any birders in the future? What is and how will the future social media look like, how we are going to get there, and what has to be done to enable the future Social Media? Probably the largest research and innovation community of in area of media and content in Europe organized within the NEM Initiative will elaborate inputs to answer these questions within a coordinated action among the community members and beyond, which will be supported by the Vital Media project of the Horizon 2020 EU research and innovation program.

To do so, the NEM Steering Board is already working on definition of an initial vision “The Future of Social Media” proposal, which will be open for discussion with all NEM members in autumn 2017. At the NEM Summit 2017, the 10th edition of the NEM annual conference and exhibition which will be held in Madrid, Spain, on 29/30 November 2017, the discussion will be open to all interested stakeholders through a number of presentations, invited talks, and open discussions. Results of this activity will be summarized in a white paper, expected to be published in December 2017, aiming at identifying the next steps towards the future of social media, including required research and innovation activities in the next period to achieve the defined goals, as well as related standardization, regulatory, and policy actions. The white paper will provide a base for further detailed elaboration of all these aspects which will be detailed in due course throughout 2018.

 

 

This activity is not limited to NEM Initiative and its members and is open for everyone to participate. If you feel you should get involved in this activity, if you have any ideas or information on this aspect to share, if you think you can contribute, do not hesitate to contact us at contact([at])nem-initiative.org.

 

Halid Hrasnica, Eurescom GmbH, NEM Secretariat

On behalf of the NEM Initiative Executive Group

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