Fake News: What is it and how does it impact the corporate environment?

Fake news in the corporate environment can destabilize the reputation of companies and managers, generating reputational crises and can affect direct revenues.

What is the origin of Fake News?

It is an Anglo-Saxon term that became popular in 2016 when Donald Trump used it to refer to the information issued by media outlets such as New York Times and The Washington Post on Twitter about his candidacy for the U.S. presidential election. Also in this same year, according to U.S. intelligence agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA), stated that Russia had interfered in the U.S. presidential election to favor Trump to be the candidate selected as president (BBC Mundo , 2016).

However, the origin of Fake News is not a new phenomenon, but dates to World War II when Joseph Goebbels, Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda in the Third Reich and Adolf Hitler’s right-hand man, states that “we must make the people believe that hunger, thirst, shortages and diseases are the fault of our opponents and make our sympathizers repeat it at every moment” (Vivar, 2019).

What is Fake News?

Fake News are linked to the phenomenon of Disinformation, which the European Commission defines as “an ecosystem of production, propagation and consumption of false, inaccurate or misleading information that is profit-driven or seeks to cause public harm” (European Commission , 2018).

Fake News are news that contain falsified information, not contrasted, and supported in a part of reality, in order to achieve to deceive the interlocutor and interfere in his perception and in his ability to make decisions. The content of Fake News is very varied, however, all of them have a defined objective, which is to misinform by distorting reality, to achieve an “economic, political benefit or the creation of a certain state of opinion” (Amorós & Évole, 2018). The problem of Fake News arises due to the complexity of detecting them, their tendency towards virality and their rapid dissemination in social networks.

Regarding the difficulty to identify them, Gartner, an American consulting firm specialized in information technologies, in its report “Technology Predictions for 2018″ indicates that half of the news will be fake by 2022 (Gartner, 2017) and, the worrying thing is that, according to the ” I Estudio sobre el impacto de las Fake News en España “, only 14% are able to identify fake news and 60% believe they know how to detect them (Simple Lógica & UCM, 2017).

Referring to the second of the problems associated with the phenomenon, Fake News, according to a study conducted by three academics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology states that false information tends to spread faster than real data, and that this does not necessarily have to be directly related to programmed bots to disseminate inaccurate news. The study indicates that Fake News is 70% more likely to be reproduced (Vosoughi, Roy, & Aral, 2018).

Means of dissemination of Fake News

As indicated by the annual report of the journalistic profession of the Madrid Press Association, the main source of information for Spaniards is social media in 79% (Asociación de la Prensa de Madrid, 2019). Likewise, social networks are the media where the highest number of Fake News is found (GAD3; AXA Foundation, 2021).

For this reason, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have signed a “Code of Practice on Disinformation” in 2018, in which a series of global self-regulatory standards are agreed upon to fight disinformation. The European Commission carries out monitoring to ensure proper implementation of their actions. (European Commission, 2021).

Fake News in the corporate enviroment

Fake News is not only a big challenge for large online communication platforms, but also for any other corporate enviroment. Fake news can have a huge reputational impact, since the investment needed to damage a company’s image is very small. In fact, disinformation often comes from the publication of false information on social networks. These publications can be issued both by people external to the company but also by the employees themselves to put pressure on the company (Rodríguez-Fernández, 2019). An example of this is that of the industrial group Vinci which, following false statements about the company, which claimed that its CFO had been fired for alleged fraud, the value of its shares fell by 18% in 2016. The company was able to react to the news and reduced the damage to 4% loss per share (Pardo & Pardo, 2018).

Thus, misinformation becomes the new battlefront for companies, as Fake News can not only have harmful consequences for the brand by reducing customer confidence in the brand but can also lead to harmful economic effects due to a negative impact on sales of products and/or services.

At Vestigere, we fight misinformation by identifying any content available in open sources that could have an impact on the customer’s reputation. The information extracted from the open-source monitoring process allows the company’s decision makers to obtain strategic information in order to carry out effective response mechanisms to manage a reputational crisis.

Vestigere, in addition to monitoring and identifying any mention made in open sources to the client and conducting a thorough examination of the sentiment that exists on social networks about the company, our services allow us to detect smear campaigns and even, in cases where possible, to initiate a de-anonymization procedure to associate social media profiles to real physical identities.

Bibliography

  • Amorós, M., & Évole, J. (2018). Fake News: La verdad de las noticias falsas. Barcelona: Plataforma Editorial.
  • Asociación de la Prensa de Madrid. (2019). Obtenido de https://www.apmadrid.es/comunicado/informe-de-la-profesion-periodistica-2019-aumenta-un-26-el-paro-de-los-periodistas-tras-6-anos-de-descensos/
  • BBC Mundo . (10 de diciembre de 2016). Rusia “intervino en las elecciones para promover la victoria de Donald Trump”, dicen agencias de inteligencia de EE. UU.
  • Comisión Europea. (2021). Obtenido de https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/tackling-online-disinformation
  • European Commission . (2018). A multi-dimensional approach to disinformation . Belgium.
  • GAD3; Fundación AXA . (s.f.). Foro Periodismo 2030. Castilla y León .
  • GAD3; Fundación AXA. (2021). Foro Periodismo 2030.
  • Gartner. (3 de October de 2017). Obtenido de https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2017-10-03-gartner-reveals-top-predictions-for-it-organizations-and-users-in-2018-and-beyond
  • Pardo , R. S., & Pardo, J. (2018). LA influencia del fenómeno “fake news” en la comunicación organizacional. La innovación de la innovación: del medio al contenido predictivo. Actas III Simposio Internacional sobre gestión de la comunicación. Obtenido de https://xescom2018.wordpress.com/libro-de-acta/
  • Rodríguez-Fernández, L. (2019). Desinformación y comunicación organizacional: estudio sobre el impacto de las Fake News . Revista Latina de Comunicación Social , 1714-1728.
  • Simple Lógica & UCM. (2017). “I Estudio sobre el Impacto de las Fake News en España”. Obtenido de https://www.uoc.edu/portal/es/news/actualitat/2019/319-fakenews-comision-nacional.html
  • Vivar, J. M. (2019). “Las fake news siempre han existido, pero hoy en día se han visto catapultadas por las redes sociales”. Madrid: Doxa Comunicación.
  • Vosoughi, S., Roy, D., & Aral, S. (2018). The spread of true and false news online. Science Journals, 359.

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