By: Ahmed Al Balushi
Fake News isn’t necessarily new News.
In fact (pun intended), Fake News has been making headlines in the public discourse for quite a long time.
Whether it was a Renaissance priest claiming a child was a blood sacrifice for Passover (Source) or there were Bat-Men on the moon (Source), false narratives have long benefited social, political, or financial goals of those dubious enough to use them.
The advent of the internet and social media has changed the game of Fake News forever.
A single, well-placed false narrative makes the jump from Facebook to conversations around the water cooler in a frighteningly effortless way.
While today, the phrase Fake News mainly conjures up images of political propaganda, presidential elections, and disinformation campaigns, not all Fake News is political.
Here are three types of fake news (that aren’t political) and how you can handle them.
Satire is the most harmless of Fake News. It all comes down to intention and satire was created to mock or entertain, never to deceive. The Onion’s Founder, Scott Dikkers said it best during a speech to Marquette University that “If ‘The Onion’ ever wrote a story that fooled people, that was an accident, and that was because they didn’t know better,”
Action plan – You can ignore it. If someone is spreading satire as real news, your audience is more than likely to understand it’s just a joke, considering the source. However, satire and parody articles about your brand could be a chance for positive press and show that your brand has a good sense of humor.
2. Bogus reviews
Consumers do more research than ever before making a buying decision.
The first stop for many is to review websites such as Yelp, BBB, or Angie’s List to get an idea of how trustworthy or effective a business is.
For service related businesses, a fake review or a coordinated campaign of bad reviews (known as a “Review Bomb”) can have a detrimental effect on your reputation, as 84% of consumers trust online reviews (source). This type of Fake News is becoming so prevalent that the FTC is even getting involved.
Action plan: On the plus side, 89% of consumers read businesses’ responses to reviews (Source). You should respond calmly and factually. Depending on the situation, you may want to contact the provider as well to have the review taken down. No matter what, though, you have to be active on the channels that affect you the most.
Clickbait is defined by Center for Information Technology & Society as “the shocking or teasing headlines of these stories trick you into clicking for more information” (source).
You’ve likely seen these across the web curiosity-creating phrases like “…you won’t believe what happens next” or “These Stunning Photos Of A _____ Will Melt Your Heart”.
When this tactic is used against your brand to spread false stories, it can trick Google’s search algorithms into thinking it is true which has actually happened.
Action plan: Contact the publisher or syndicated content provider and have the content taken down, then respond through your channels as you would to any other kind of Fake News.
Recognising and understanding the intent behind different types of fake news can help you develop a way to combat misinformation about your brand. No matter what, defeating misinformation is always a race against time. Your brand needs a game plan to dealing with Fake News so that you’re ready to act quickly, factually, and decisively.
Have you been victim to any of these types of fake news? Let us know in the comments below