Communication Practice Trends in Asia-Pacific: Focus on New Technologies, but Concerns about Trust and Ethics

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Jim Macnamara
May O. Lwin
Chun-ju Flora Hung-Baesecke
Ansgar Zerfass

Abstract

Beyond some unsurprising findings, such as increasing use of social media for communication management and public relations, the 2020/21 Asia-Pacific edition of the global Communication Monitor found that practitioners in the region are giving increased focus to the use of ‘big data’ and artificial intelligence such as bots and algorithms, but many harbor concerns about ethics in these practices and maintaining trust. The survey across 15 Asia-Pacific countries and territories shows that practitioners are coming to grips with social media and day-to-day digital technology, but 75% see the use of bots, algorithms, and big data analytics as emerging issues. Building and maintaining public trust while using such technologies has become the third highest rated strategic issue, after being ranked seventh in 2017. Concerningly, however, almost one-third of communication professionals in Asia-Pacific have never participated in ethics training and many reported a lack of IT skills, which pose challenges in implementing ethical and socially responsible practice. The findings offer a contribution to practical theory in place of normative theories and, operationally, the findings indicate a need for increased professional development by employers, professional organizations, and educators, and potentially an updating of codes of practice and codes of ethics.

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