Protecting Your Company in the Era of Fake News
On November 14-15, MAPI will hold our first-ever crisis communications event, Defend Your Corporate Reputation. We will explore the intensification of reputation management amidst fake news and social media. The event’s keynote speaker, Jeannette Keton, is a former television and newspaper reporter and software solutions company owner. She developed Fake or Fact? Real Tools to Determine Real News, an interactive program designed to raise awareness regarding the importance of thinking critically about news and other information.
Jeannette will speak about technologies that are taking disinformation to new levels, the ramifications for business, and what can be done to combat it. In preparation for our upcoming event, she answered some questions about fake news.
Q1: Why should manufacturing companies be concerned about fake news?
A1: All businesses should be concerned. Disinformation, which includes fake news, is causing disagreement over basic facts and undermining rational discourse and decision making, with unsettling ramifications for civil society, democratic principles, and business. Democracies around the world are mobilizing to combat it. At a company level, the speed and reach of disinformation increases the potential for brand damage, decreased employee productivity, and other financial impacts. At the most tactical of levels: quality business decisions are based on quality information. As we increasingly turn to the internet for information, will we be able to determine fake from fact?
Q2: Is fake news only a social media problem, or should we be concerned about other sources as well?
A2: Disinformation is present within a wide range of venues, from fake not-for-profit websites, fake polls, and fake product reviews, to what are referred to as “predatory” journals, journals masquerading as scholarly or scientific that fail to meet the stringent editorial and peer review standards of legitimate publications. In addition, a new type of disinformation is on the horizon, manipulated “deep fake” videos so sophisticated that even forensic audio/visual experts have difficulty identifying them. These, combined with highly sophisticated phishing techniques, are of particular concern for businesses.
Q3: In this era of disinformation, what can company leaders do to protect their organization’s brand?
A3: Companies are developing mitigation strategies that address disinformation at multiple levels: from taking positions on public policies that could deter the spread of false information to internal mitigation programs. Many companies proactively track online comments and have processes in place to respond when they spot false reports. Companies are also instituting internal education programs to raise awareness about the impacts of false information and arm employees with tools that help them distinguish fake from fact.
Q4: Could you share an example of a company who had challenges due to fake news?
A4: Chobani Yogurt was the object of a disinformation campaign that connected Chobani refugee hires to a sexual assault and a spike in tuberculosis at its Twin Falls, Iowa location. Chobani’s president, as well as elected officials in Twin Falls, received death threats and the internet was littered with calls to boycott Chobani products. Chobani sued Alex Jones of Infowars, a major purveyor of the story. Jones eventually settled and publicly apologized.
Would you like to hear more from Jeannette and learn how to protect your business from a fake news attack? Join us November 14-15, 2018 at Defend Your Corporate Reputation.