• Ahmed Al Balushi

A four step action plan for defending against Fake News

These days, Fake News makes the headlines. Real news has been constantly covering Fake News, which, in turn makes it real news.

Try to sort out THAT paradox.

As of now there’s no official definition of what constitutes Fake News. Webopedia defines it as “false information or propaganda published under the guise of being authentic news” but one thing is for sure: not all Fake News is created equal.

It might not be a piece of journalism created to spread a false message, it might just be someone quoting you out of context or spreading a rumor.

In the unfortunate event that you fall victim to a false story being spread about you, it is important to have a plan in place. It doesn’t take much to destroy all the hard work you’ve done to build up your brand.

Here are four R’s that’ll help you build an action plan to defend against fake news attacks against your organization.


The decision you have to make first of all is to decide whether this is at the point where you need to respond at all. Sometimes it's one of those news stories that’ll just blow itself out. Like when a parasitic worm outbreak was linked to McDonald's hamburger meat. Their response was to acknowledge then dismiss the problem and the story eventually blew itself out. The moral is: don’t go picking fights where you don’t need to, otherwise you bring attention to something that would have quietly vanished. Just ask Barbara Streisand.


Whether you respond directly to a fake news assault or choose to stay silent, a Fake News assault will help adjust your strategy. For example, if fake news is centered around a misconstrued or false customer service interaction, then focusing on data-backed customer service results your organization has achieved can reinforce the positives while disarming the false information circulating. Being able to respond like this comes down to how aware you are of what is going on across all your channels. You must be constantly aware of what is being said about your organization online so you can hear such attacks.


In some cases, humor is a great way to disarm the tension. This gives you a great way to respond to false allegations while also highlighting how ludicrous the claims are. INSEAD Knowledge writes that when people in a conflict situation are given a chance to laugh, it opens their mind to other alternatives in their thinking, which could give them enough space to realize that what they’re reading might not be true. This can be a delicate, situational technique that relies a lot on what exactly the subject of the false information is. Making a joke about a serious situation can make your organization seem callous and uncaring so be sure to use this technique carefully.


Tap in your network. Social proof matters in times like this and you should rely on your network to help. Get employees, influencers, fans, and others to comment, like or share your direct response to the source of Fake News. Most social media platforms make the most engaged posts the most visible. This will make it easier to combat the false information by making the truth the loudest voice on the internet.


Responding to Fake News is a murky area of communications. Like a catchy song, it spreads quickly and can be extremely difficult to get it out of people’s minds once it is there. The most important thing you can do is be aware of what is being said about your organization. None of these strategies are the least bit helpful if you’re not using Social Listening across your channels with an AI-powered platform like Datalytics24.

Protect your brand and disarm Fake New before it damages your brand with a Social Listening tool powered by AI.

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