Information is the new currency of our time. But just like with currency, there are also “counterfeiters”, because of whom more and more false information appears in the Internet space, and the damage caused by it is becoming more and more serious.
We live in a world where information spreads instantly: it’s enough to click a button in social networks or send a message in a messenger. We hurry to share important, happy or frightening news, without thinking that not all of them are true and harmless. However, fake news can not only upset a person’s inner equilibrium but also undermine confidence in the business and cause serious losses to the company.
Fake means something false, unreliable, falsified in order to mislead. The term has firmly taken root in the information space and has become synonymous with misinformation stylized as news.
Fake news can be divided into two types. Some are similar to a Bizzo’ live casino because they are created for fun. These are examples of post irony and sarcasm. They cause nothing but a smile or bewilderment.
Business today is one of the most vulnerable spheres, because dissemination of false information can strike both the financial stability of the company and the business reputation and credibility of the brand.
Suffice it to recall the high-profile story about the fake press release of the French construction company Vinci: it talked about the resignation of the financial director. He was allegedly blamed for errors in reporting, due to which the company’s valuation was increased by €3.5 billion. After the news was published, the company’s shares instantly fell by 20%, and in money terms Vinci lost about 7 billion euros.
The fake release even contained a link to a website that mimicked the company’s real website. The letter also included a fake phone number allegedly belonging to a Vinci spokesman. He diligently took calls from journalists and confirmed the fake news. Later, the media received an anonymous letter stating that the fake press release campaign was revenge for Vinci’s actions in Russia and France, which had damaged the environment.
Most conflicts between states, politicians and businesses begin precisely with shuffling, twisting and manipulation. It is they that drive people into a state of panic, inflame racist sentiments, provoke riots and push them to various ill-considered actions. So let us dwell on how to recognize a fake in time.
The main signs that the information isn’t trustworthy:
- Lack of an official source of the news.
- An overly emotional headline that evokes negative emotions.
- Posting material on an unknown or questionable domain, while the official media and well-known outlets do not write about it.
- The site that published the fake news has no editorial contact, no feedback form or any way to contact the publication.
- Lobbying or imposing only one point of view on readers.
- Blatant lies – referring to nonexistent studies, fake institutions and scientists who never existed.
If there is no link to the official source, or the names of experts, you should be very wary of news that doesn’t have a link to the original source. But even if there are links and the author is mentioned, it is worth double-checking – it is possible that all statements by such an “expert” are not worth a damn.
Moreover, don’t blindly trust the images. Perhaps there is some photoshop or a photo taken from an earlier event, but passed off as current. To check the authenticity, you just need to add a link to one of the services: Who stole my pictures, Tineye or Google.Pictures.
In the world of fiction there is such a thing as “glass”, when the author deliberately tries to squeeze emotion out of the reader or viewer, so the book or film is stuffed with unwarranted suffering.
But if in a news text there are emotionally charged words like “Shock content!”, “We’re going to die!”, “The Earth has only days to live!”, then it immediately becomes clear that the author wants to anger, pity or scare the reader. And this is the first and most important sign of manipulation.
Such materials are often accompanied by equally emotional photographs: sad children, weeping faces, poor old people, or abandoned animals.
In order not to succumb to provocation, always remember – the task of news agencies and top media is not to press emotions, but to inform, to give the most neutral, comprehensive information. Even if the news is about a pandemic, a terrorist attack or an emergency.
If the news appears only on a little-known site, and no national-level media, news agencies or official sources have written about it, you should be wary of this information.
Verify the authenticity of news by using basic rules:
- Look for an official primary source or confirmation of information from several independent sources. If they are all anonymous, not mentioned at all, or hidden under the phrase “came to light” or “as told by an insider,” you are a fake.
- Keep track of how many points of view on the issue the material contains.
- Check the accuracy of facts and data, even the seemingly insignificant ones.
- Pay attention to the tone and presentation of the news. Remember that the key objective of journalism is to inform readers impartially about what happened, without imposing your own point of view.
- Critically evaluate information and never trust news just because other online users have liked or reposted it on social networks.
A person who conducts social media for his or her own pleasure and a person who promotes a personal brand with their help are at different risks from the spread of fake information. The first, at worst, can get a couple of unflattering comments and spoiled mood, and the second – a blow to business reputation, reduced trust and number of followers and, as a consequence, reduced sales.
That’s why it’s especially important to verify information before writing or giving a value judgment about someone or something. But we’re all human beings, and even if we have perfectly trained our critical thinking, one day we can slip up and make a mistake. To spread information that seems to be true, to receive dozens or even hundreds of negative comments, to start an unnecessary discussion. To avoid getting into an unpleasant situation or exacerbating it, follow these rules.
Don’t do anything on impulse if the information has struck a nerve, angered you, frightened you, etc. If there was an overwhelming desire to engage in the process, experts recommend using the “10 minute rule”, during which you should leave the social networks alone and do something else. As a rule, during this time, the emotional charge weakens and the desire to rant and write angry posts comes to naught.
Never write angry comments, don’t actively participate in discussions, and don’t be rude, even if you really want to, or if the person you’re talking to is being aggressive. Of course, you can hotly delete a questionable thread in the comments, but no one has cancelled the screenshots.
The definition of a fake implies not only deliberate fakes and simulations, but also carelessness, typos and technical errors. Going into the mass consciousness, they become a false reality. So always check the spelling of names, professions and titles of the people mentioned, check the dates, names and addresses. Then you yourself will be able to avoid mistakes, and your reputation as an expert won’t suffer.
You can’t defeat fakes – this is a fact. But you can learn to automatically recognize them and counteract untrue information without spreading it thoughtlessly or allowing your own consciousness to be manipulated.
Nurture critical thinking, keep a cool head, regularly organize informational detoxes, and nothing will be able to shake your inner balance, and with it your reputation.