While not entirely new, the issue of brazen misinformation has been thrust into the spotlight again amidst the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia. With the proliferation of social media and messaging platforms, it has never been easier for rogue actors to sway public perception and perpetuate biases online. The platforms have become a double-edged sword in the new normal: While they have the capability to forge connections and relationships, they can also sow discord and conflict. Today, people can spread fake news easily with a single post that goes viral, reaching thousands.
Winning the misinformation war entails coordinated action among the media, governments, organisations, and consumers. Digital literacy should be promoted in communities. Media and communications professionals should commit to deliver high-quality content, with ethics as the heart of their initiatives. Communications practitioners have to lead by example, upholding and safeguarding the truth by presenting accurate information to the public with good intentions. After all, in the battle against fake news, the communications industry has a responsibility to serve as a transparent source of credible information in the quest for truth.
While comms professionals can do their part by establishing better ethical guidelines, it will finally hinge on the public—who oftentimes serves as a conduit of fake news—whether or not we will emerge successful from the war against misinformation.
How can we all do our part in stopping misinformation in the digital age?
Don’t accept information at face value, just because you receive the same message from different sources or see the same post being shared by different people on social media. It’s really very easy nowadays to copy and paste information and share it online. The viral nature of fake news can be very misleading, but there are some signs that can clue you in. For instance, most of the time, fake news claiming to be “breaking news” uses recycled, or stock images. Messages containing fake information also normally contain a call to action for recipients to spread the word and send the message to their other contacts.
Does the message or post contain any reference to an organisation? Check the organisation’s website, or social media channels. In some cases, these organisations would post a notice announcing fraudulent information being circulated around.
If you are aware of misinformation campaigns going on, have the initiative to alert people in your network. Sharing is caring: By flagging these campaigns, we are preventing more people from sharing the wrong information to their own circles, and reducing the rate at which misinformation spreads.
Everyone has the responsibility to serve as stewards of truth in the ongoing war against misinformation, and we should hold each other accountable as we move forward in a world dominated by fake news, along with the pervasiveness of social media.
Our PRecious experts are happy to share more about our work and PR’s role in the misinformation war. Drop us a line to continue the conversation.