In the past couple of years the phenomenon of fake news has become an increasing issue for businesses and the media alike. Major events such as the election of Donald Trump and the UK general elections have been affected by the suggestion that information designed to deceive has been circulated online and has had an impact on the result.
What is fake news?
Fake news can take a variety of forms – at its most extreme, it deliberately spreads incorrect statements which are purposefully distributed under the guise of real news with the aim of deceiving for their own gain (whether that be political, financial or other).
In most cases, fake news is an unsubstantiated rumour posted on social media which rapidly gains momentum and thanks to being shared widely it becomes recognised as real news. These stories become accepted as the truth, whether this was the original intention or not.
You would think that fake news is easy to recognise but believe me it can be incredibly hard to identify something as false that has been shared, and accepted, so widely on social media. Added to this, the news format that these sites follow is very easy to imitate.
How does it affect businesses?
It’s not just politicians that are affected, there has been real life examples of businesses who have suffered at the hands of fake news. In some cases, public sentiment towards affected brands can shift, reputations can be damaged and share prices can even fall.
Businesses are also increasingly worried about the rise of fake news and how it may affect them. Unsurprisingly large businesses are now shunning digital news sites that might have put their advertisements alongside extremist, offensive or fake material.
How do we stop fake news?
Media outlets are starting to realise the damage that fake news can cause and many now have initiatives to stop it. The BBC, for example, haslaunched a new scheme to help young people identify real news and filter out fake or false information. Targeted at secondary schools and sixth forms across the UK, the BBC is set to offer mentoring in class and online to help them spot so-called fake news.