The choice of fake news as the word of the year 2017 by the Oxford Dictionary confirms the global dimension that this phenomenon has acquired. False news not only floods media and social networks, but has become news in itself. Luckily, the reaction against the fake news seems to have started and in Canela PR we believe it will be one of the 2018 trends in communication and public relations.
The battle against fake news has only just begun
Quality journalism at the frontline against fake news
The first victim of the fake news is the credibility of the media, already questioned. And no wonder: if the current trend continues, by 2022 most of the information we will consume will be false, estimates the Gartner consultancy. But the spread of fake news through social networks is also starting to erode the credibility and reputation of these platforms, as Edelman warns. 54% of users in the United States blame Facebook and Twitter for spreading false news and 83% believe that more laws should be enacted to stop fake news.
Given this sentiment, social network and Internet companies have launched some measures to combat false news. Facebook has begun asking users to rate the reliability of the news that is shared on their platform; Twitter studies adding a function to tag false news; and Google presented a few months ago a verification function of the information disseminated in Google News.
However, it is not clear that these measures can stop the epidemic of fake news. For example, the organization Reporters Without Borders points out that it is a paradox to put the fight against misinformation in the hands of users, assuming that all are able to distinguish between false and true news. But it seems that this is not the case: according to the “I Study on the impact of fake news in Spain” carried out by the Simple Logic consultant in collaboration with the Complutense University of Madrid, 86% of the Spanish population has difficulties in differentiating a false article of a true one.
PR agencies and fake news
While social networks, Internet companies and governments agree on how to combat false news, public relations agencies must also do something about it. So far, we have dedicated ourselves to carrying out crisis communication campaigns when a customer’s brand has been affected by a hoax. However, lies go viral much more quickly and easily than later denials.
7 For 54% of Americans, Facebook and Twitter are as responsible for fake news as the Russian government. The media are also signaled.
What can communication agencies do to help fight fake news? The best recipe to do our job well. In this sense, the rise of fake news is causing a resurgence of the credibility of the media and traditional communication channels of brands. 60% of the users surveyed by The Holmes Report indicate that the fear of false news is leading them to take more information from professional media; another investigation carried out by Ogilvy indicates that the media are the most credible sources (47% of the users), followed by the websites and press releases of the companies (22%).
So we believe that the best way to combat false news is to strengthen collaboration between journalists and PR professionals. This will allow journalists to continue receiving quality information that will facilitate their work; that companies can spread their messages and protect the reputation of their brands; and, what is even more important, that citizens are not deprived of their right to accurate information. The battle against fake news has just started and it will be a long struggle which involves all of us.
What media or social networks do you consider most credible? Comment on social networks!