Okay, Anthony hasn’t really fired us and replaced us with monkeys, but it emphasises how fake news can draw you in.

So how do you protect yourself from it as a business? 

Fake news was the hot topic of 2019 thanks to a certain American president and it’s set to remain a buzzword in 2020.

But it’s only celebrities and big organisations that are targeted, right? Wrong. This blog will discuss the types of bogus content that can be created to harm a business’ reputation.

Firstly, there are three types of fake news:

 

Disinformation – False information deliberately created to cause harm.

Remember when the Conservative party changed their Twitter handle to factcheckUK?

 

Misinformation – False information but not created to harm.

Google is taking steps to prevent this through SOS alerts. An example of this is the coronavirus, the search engine handpicks information such as latest news and advice from authoritative sites like the NHS and government.

 

Malinformation – Information based on reality used to inflict harm on a person, group or country.

For example, Piers Morgan recently released private Instagram messages between him and Caroline Flack to lash out at Jameela

Jamil.

 

Now here’s the important bit, how to protect yourself.

Build reputational resilience

Charity work and sponsorship might be an obvious way to solidify you as a socially responsible business, but actions like talking to students and holding free events can also help.

Post pictures on your social of any community, environment or educational work you do. Also consider how to share updates across all PR and marketing communications.

Improve transparency and publish first

Similar to reputation resilience, you don’t have to keep everything about your business a secret. Rather than sitting on a huge pile of information that could be leaked and edited, make it accessible on your website.

For example, the gender pay gap. Publishing honest information on your website in regards to equal pay can protect you if you’re ever accused of anything different. You can signpost people to pre-existing information on your site to defend yourself.

Respond rapidly

Take Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin as an example. A false rumour that he’d died wiped $4bn off his creations value. Act swiftly.

Real-time monitoring

This ties in with the above point. Being on the ball with social media notifications allows you to monitor what’s said about you so that you can act quickly. You can also use Google Alerts to be informed as soon as an article is written about you.

Update your crisis communications plan to include fake news and test it

Hopefully you already have a crisis comms plan, but if you don’t, we can help you do one. Include scenarios for each type of fake news and how you would address them. Test it and make sure relevant people are aware of it.

<Our crisis communications page has examples and more information to help you>