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10 Examples of Gatekeeping
John Spacey, September 27, 2021
Gatekeeping is the process of filtering messages. This is a basic communication process whereby someone or something decides what messages are communicated and which are suppressed, blocked, sidelined or ignored. The following are illustrative examples of gatekeeping.
AlgorithmsAlgorithms that decide what media to present to users. For example, a video sharing platform that selects videos to promote to users based largely on user behavior data.
AdvertisersAdvertisers are known to act as gatekeepers whereby they have criteria for what content they will sponsor such that media organizations have incentive to produce media that aligns to this policy. For example, a documentary program that never selects a story that is likely to offend their largest advertiser.
State ControlLaws, regulations and government actions that serve to promote, demote or ban media messages. Governments may implement technologies to filter internet messages and place pressure on private media firms to shape their messages. For example, politicians that use a system of cronyism with media owners and executives to influence what stories make the news. In many cases, governments also directly own media firms.
Social MediaGovernments commonly push social media platforms to act as gatekeepers to delete, block, demote or flag messages that are perceived as problematic. Social media firms commonly publish guidelines for content and act as gatekeepers in interpreting and applying this policy.
GroupthinkGroupthink is an environment where people fear saying what they really think because they feel they must align to the opinion of a group. This can be quite illogical where most people in the group disagree with the opinion of the group but are afraid to speak up. Groupthink is created by gatekeepers who monitor communication for wrong thinking and seek to socially ostracize those who voice such wrong ideas.
CensorshipCensorship is an official policy that certain messages can't be communicated. For example, a university that bans certain public speakers from their campus based on their reputation or the content of their work.
Media StructureThe process by which media organizations decide what content to produce and promote. For example, a newspaper that writes 30 articles about one major event but doesn't cover another. This gatekeeping may occur at various levels of a media hierarchy such as owners, executives, sponsors, producers, editors or journalists that may all play a role in the selection of stories.
Media BiasMedia gatekeeping is a required process as every media organization has to decide what to cover. This can be influenced by media bias such as an ideological mission that replaces objectivity.
Audience GatekeepingSocial media and other communication tools such as email allow the audience to promote messages. For example, a cat video that goes viral because it is shared by a high percentage of people who view it.
Filter BubblesA filter bubble is a personalized view of media messages created by algorithms and audience tools such as follow/unfollow. This can create an altered view of reality as users see content that aligns to their point of view such that they may overestimate the correctness of their ideas. For example, if you believe that bees are aliens and you only read blogs that support this idea and unfollow anyone who contradicts this view, you may begin to feel you are really correct as you are constantly fed media that reinforces your theory. This could get really stark as artificial intelligence could generate content that makes each user happy, potentially feeding wild delusions with artificially generated content.
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