How will new solutions to fight fake news affect your brand’s content?

Fake news has been around as long as people have been sharing stories. But recently it’s become so commonplace that #fakenews is a regular trending hashtag and the term has been added to the Cambridge Dictionary.

fake news (noun) false stories that appear to be news, are spread on the internet or other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke.

The perfect storm of social media algorithms, advertising tactics and people simply prepared to make stuff up in order to advance an agenda or cash in on the trend has made fake news a phenomenon.

 

Fake news spreads fast

Fake news is a problem, not only for the general public who’s effectively led astray from the truth, but also for the brands and individuals whose reputations can be affected by the spread of misinformation. Fake news is the story that every brand wants to avoid. In fact, 92 percent of global communications executives cite fake news as the most challenging ethical threat to their profession, followed by the purposeful distortion of the truth (91 percent).

MIT recently conducted a massive study analyzing nearly 126,000 contested stories on Twitter, tweeted by 3 million users over a period of more than 10 years — and found that salacious, simply untrue stories outperformed true ones by a wide margin in every common metric; they spread much faster, reached more people and penetrated deeper into the social network than any true story could.

According to the study, “False news stories are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than true stories are. It also takes true stories about six times as long to reach 1,500 people as it does for false stories to reach the same number of people.”

To learn about the latest developments in Fake News, register for the spring PRSA Counselors Academy Conference today!


 

Fake News is Not One-Size-Fits-All

As if trying to sort through what’s real and what’s fake isn’t enough of a chore, there are different types of fake news that circulate. One key is understanding the difference between misinformation and disinformation.

Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. Disinformation, which is an act of deception, should not be confused with misinformation which is defined as inaccurate information that is unintentionally false.

Disinformation: An example is a fake tweet which can be created via tweet generator websites.

 

twiter_generator
 
 

Misinformation: An example is when a media outlet makes an error and reports wrong information which can quickly spread.

(Premature CBS Report of Tom Petty’s Death Sets Off an Outpouring)

Satire: Another type of fake news is satire or parody. A satire is an intentionally false story designed to evoke humor. The problem with these type of stories is that they are often spread by people who don’t realize they are created as a joke like this story on the website The Onion.

(Story on the onion about woman who spends entire date wondering if this is the guy she will mace)
 

 

What Your Brand Can Do

What’s the solution to fighting fake news? The most recent development is a journalistic fight against fake news called NewsGuard, which aims to give websites reliability ratings and “nutrition label” style write-ups so that consumers can make their own judgements about the credibility of the content. Journalists-turned-media entrepreneurs Steven Brilli and Gordon Crovitz say they’re hiring dozens of journalists as analysts to review the 7,500 most accessed and shared news and information websites in the United States. Their goal is to have the service launched before the midterm elections in November. Once NewsGuard is up and running, they say a separate team will be on call to find new websites (that may be launched to promote fictitious stories) and rate them in real time.

In the meantime, social platforms have promised to fight back against fake news. According to Facebook, the social giant is battling fake news by working to block millions of fake accounts daily, using machine-learning algorithms. Facebook says it’s also fact-checking photos, videos and article links.

It’s unclear how quickly these measure will have an impact on identifying and preventing the spread of fake news and how this will affect brands. For now, the burden will continue to fall on communications professionals to protect their brands from this threat.

So what exactly can brands do to fight fake news? Watch this video to see our tips: