Development of the World Internet Media
(1) Internet media, the application with the most users, the highest use frequency and the widest scope, are the means of obtaining information, acquiring knowledge, socializing and enjoying entertainment and leisure time, playing an important role in enriching Internet users’ cultural life and facilitating cultural prosperity and civilization progress. (2) Compared with mass media, Internet media are characterized by digitalization, multi-media, hypertext and strong interaction. They have experienced three stages, namely, Internet media 1.0, Internet media 2.0 and next-generation Internet media, developing from one-way communication in the direction of interaction, diversified ecosystems and smart media. (3) By product or service type, Internet media can be categorized into new media, social media, search engines, knowledge platforms and audio-visual media. North America and Europe have more media discourse power and technical advantages, with their products available worldwide; and Asia, Latin America and Africa have local products and services with great potential, with room for improvement. (4) Internet media are channels for Internet users to obtain news and information. Comprehensive portals and aggregated news websites enjoy wide coverage. For example, the number of monthly accesses to Google News is 499.2 million. Traditional news media in major countries maintain strong momentum. The number of monthly accesses to the website of New York Times has reached 388.1 million. Europe, North America, China, Japan, Republic of Korea and Australia are witnessing digital transformation and upgrading of their traditional media and the revolution of their media industry. Africa and Latin America are weak in Internet news media, but some countries there with good Internet infrastructure have their local influential news media. (5) Social media are one of the most popular types of Internet media, including the social network, instant messaging (IM) and online forum (BBS), with the number of their users and their growth rate and penetration rate on the leading list of the world. By the second quarter of 2017, the number of active users of social media in the world had amounted to 3.028 billion, accounting for 79.29% of the total number of the world’s Internet users, but there exists imbalance in the development between regions. The penetration rate in Africa is only 14%, much lower than that in other regions. Social media have increasingly comprehensive functions. News feeds, payment transaction and live video have been added into social media and the mobile terminal has become an important area. (6) Google is the leader on the search engine market. By July 2017, its market share had remained 86.83% of the global total, and it had over 4.5 billion active users, as the leading search engine in most countries of Asia, Europe, Africa and Americas, but not in some non-English speaking countries, such as Russia, China, Republic of Korea and Japan. (7) Internet media of knowledge platforms include online encyclopedia and online Q&A. Wikipedia enjoys over 15 billion accesses every month. Knowledge platforms started early and have witnessed rapid development in North America, Europe and Asia, but started late in Africa and Latin America, where there are few localized knowledge platforms. (8) Audio-visual media take the lead in all Internet media in terms of traffic. It is estimated that their traffic will account for 76% of the total traffic of Internet media in 2018. YouTube has 1.5 billion active users every month. Audio-visual media will become an important growth point of the global entertainment and media industry, and tend to generate and deliver their content by themselves. They are divided into short video, live streaming and bullet screen to meet the demand of different groups of people for entertainment. The products of the United State enjoy the fastest development while those in other regions can meet their local cultural demand. Africa and Latin America have great potential demand, with South Africa and Brazil witnessing the greatest. (9) Forms of Internet media are undergoing profound changes. Traditional media are transforming into new media, with their delivery channels expanding to social platforms. News generation flows represented by “Central Kitchen” witness constant innovation and an obvious trend of paid subscription. Internet media embody open scenario communication, participation and feedback communication, layer communication, and social interaction communication. Internet media are becoming diversified, personalized, professionalized and data-oriented. (10) The necessity and importance of Internet content governance have become the consensus of governments, businesses, trade associations, media and the public, harmful information supervision being the core. The focus of governance is on information threatening national security, information of pornography and violence, information violating privacy and online rumors. In recent years, to curb the spread of terrorism online has been another focus. Legislative and administrative supervision has been combined with civil self-discipline, self-governance of media platforms and special actions. Varieties of technical means have been adopted for comprehensive governance. With the deep combination of advanced technologies like AI, VR and intelligent algorithm with media development, news content generation and information communication will be more diversified, personalized and target-oriented. To sum up, the Internet is a big social information platform, on which billions of Internet users obtain and exchange information. Internet media are the most common Internet application and service type and an important tool of obtaining information, acquiring knowledge, socializing and enjoying entertainment and leisure time. They have changed the pattern of mass communication, and they are influencing and reshaping production and social life. They can also reshape Internet users’ knowledge acquirement ways, thinking and values. They are carriers spreading positive energy and excellent cultures, playing an important role in enriching the Internet users’ cultural life and facilitating cultural prosperity and civilization progress.