Today anyone can publish content – credible or not – that can be consumed worldwide. Sadly, fake news garners a great deal of traction on the internet, especially on social media. People get tricked and don’t think twice before circulating such misinformative pieces to the far end of the world. This kind of news disappears but not without doing the damage it intended to cause.
Christiane Amanpour, an eminent journalist, in one of the TED talks on ‘How to seek truth in the era of fake news’ expressed her opinion on mushrooming platforms and also how internet failed to fulfill its promise. She says, “I wish that the proliferation of platforms upon which we get our information meant that there was a proliferation of truth and transparency and depth and accuracy. But I think the opposite had happened…People have said that yes the internet came, its promise was to exponentially explode our access to more democracy, more information, less bias, more varied information. And, in fact, the opposite has happened. And so that, for me, is incredibly dangerous.”
Now, you might say you are wise and are incapable of believing such news pieces, but quite honestly if something feeds your bias you are likely to pass it off a real even when facts say the opposite. Sadly, this cent percent belief in fake news is what has made it the new superhit.
The point is that it is that this avalanche of fake news feeds on people’s biased attitudes. This is why some of the websites, bots etc. succeed publishing content which is clickworthy because they know their audience doesn’t think much as they already suffer information overload in this internet era. Obviously, for such propagandists facts don’t matter at all since their ultimate goal is to dupe people. Sigh.
Considering this trap of fake news is so well-laid, how do you plan to protect your workforce from this avalanche of falsehood? Surely, you can’t police every individual but it will help if you encourage them to be skeptical of viral news that comes their way. At this point you may wonder how all of this is of any use from an organisation’s point of view, but let us tell you that you do play a huge role. What your employees talk about outside workspace reflects the kind of work culture they immerse themselves in. They are your brand advocates and you don’t want any one of them becoming a perpetrator or creator of fake news that has the potential of ruining it for others.
Have an internal communications team engage with employees and devise ways of spreading awareness about the impact of fake news. This way you reiterate the importance of truth not just within but outside the organisation as well. And, that alone can go a long way in making them more responsible.
Besides, fake news doing rounds in the outside world there are chances of rumours within the organisation that can make life difficult at work. Hence, this should as much be a matter of concern. As per a study, 33% of employees already talk about the organisation they work for on social media. So, imagine what sort of an impact fake news from within an office can make. Wouldn’t your brand reputation suffer? Not only does it affect your current set of clients, but also those who might be considering your brand either for employment or business.
Whatever news you deem worthy of public eye can be communicated to your employees through a digital newsletter. Ask them to share them (don’t force though!) because it builds trustworthiness of your brand as it news/information broadcasted or delivered to the world through its mouthpiece.
Do you now understand how important it is to have a safety net ready so that nothing spills out from your workforce unthinkingly? Hope you are on your path to minimizing false stories from festering around you. We sure are better without them!
PS: Here’s an interesting infographic to help put things in perspective and why we want to eliminate any lapse of judgment caused by false claim-to-fame stories.