Fake news is a topic on the tongues of many people at the moment. MP’s are investigating the threat to democracy and seeing whether websites and social media platforms such as Google and Twitter need to take more of a responsibility in the control of fake news.
What do we class as fake news?
Is it the deliberate making up of a story purely for entertainment value? Or is it when a real news story has details added in to make it part real/ part not real?
Social media has become a place where real and fake stories are shared in such a similar way; users are having a tough time knowing the truth from the lies.
If we think about the number of users of social media across the globe, and then how many of these users use social media to obtain all their news; this equates to a huge proportion of people who may never see genuine news stories.
Lucy Mangan, Columnist for Stylist Magazine, made a valid point in last week’s issue when she said we are all journalists now. We have become our own experts’ evaluating a story’s source before we truly believe everything we read and having to ‘sift facts, opinion and outright fiction.’
For PR’s the ‘post-truth’ era is definitely among us but what can we do to avoid falling into the fake news trap and ensure clients are ready should they fall victim to fake news:
- Be ready to respond straight away to anything untruthful- reputations that took years to build up can be ruined in less than 5 words
- Anything being talked about on social media, if it has enough shares, can become a story in itself so make sure you monitor social media as closely as you monitor the press so that fake stories do not gain traction
- If crisis hits, embrace the story and use it as a way to promote your client and flood the media with positive and truthful messages. Be sure to acknowledge the fake story and put it right
- If you want to share a story on behalf of a client, make sure you check its source and what else is being said on the topic
- Continue speaking up- continue telling your client story and spread their key messages as far as you can. You never know, but by doing this may result in people never believing fake news in the first place!
In the meantime we’ll keep our eyes out on the findings of the MP’s investigations.
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