You’ve heard all the catchy phrases online… fake news, biased media, Russian bots. It appears all stories online are now officially shrouded in doubt.
Most businesses take the approach of staying as far away from topics as possible, which is a safe way to approach things. However, it does mean they are being pulled away from the conversation.
Business leaders on LinkedIn have a vast amount of opinions and those comments and posts can pose as much as a threat to a businesses success through the spread of false information making the leader of the operation seem naive.
The full impact of false information
As mentioned above the spread of misinformation can cause a lot of distrust with a person’s ability. If that person is in a particular position of power it can reflect the entire team. When it comes to a member of a team discriminating against others, harassing people or harming animals it can have a huge impact on everyone’s lives.
As seen in this recent news story. Spreading false information may seem harmless on the surface, but depending on the information it can lead to some very unfortunate situations.
If that information revolves around health and safety the impact can be even more devastating.
If your business likes or shares information on the company page it can be seen as your stance on the subject.
Which can be a problem with social media outreach for companies trying their best to engage with their customers.
During the current Coronavirus pandemic there were and still are countless stories on how to tackle the virus and stay safe.
A bulk of this information came from fake health advice. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University conducted a test on more than 200 million tweets discussing the virus since January and found that about 45% were sent by accounts that behave more like computerized robots than humans.
Bots are designed to spread and promote false information or agree with those whose opinions match up to their criteria. Adding fuel to the fire of conspiracy theories which state 5G is helping spread the coronavirus.
Twitter has since responded by labeling potentially harmful tweets going forward.
How to tackle Disinformation
A simple answer to disinformation is conducting your own research, but many “news sites” contain rabbit-holes of misinformation and tangents which don’t really get you anywhere. So it’s important to use trustworthy sources and consider the background of the people giving you the information.
If a company who wants to sell you sandals is telling you about a pair of sandals saving the lives of a family of four, it may be true but you will obviously be sceptical considering the source.
Sometimes it’s not as cut and dry as we think, the source may be an investor of the story themselves.
Google is fighting misinformation
In February of 2019, Google released this document on how they are fighting misinformation online. As the largest search engine online today it’s important they get it right. They’ve teamed up with the nonprofit First Draft Coalition, financed the Trust Project and partnered with Poynter’s International Fact-Checking Network.
Google uses ranking algorithms to elevate high-quality information, if sources on your company blog aren’t reliable it could harm your reputation and website rankings at the same time.
Some stories can truly be believable and many of us can be caught out… When this happens it’s best to accept it, redact if necessary and move forwards with the truth. Most retractions can occur when a comment has been made before new evidence has been put forwards. When a story is fresh or developing as times goes on, the facts can change and the lines blurred. Another important practice is to only let your opinion be heard when you have all these facts available. Jumping to conclusions is another factor of spreading false information and how most rumours are generated.
So, before you share information, ensure you have all the facts. Opinions and advice aren’t facts. You can share these as freely as you wish. But, when it comes to sharing figures or actions, take the time to think it through.