October 4, 2017 By FTI Consulting
The United States saw its deadliest mass shooting at the beginning of this week, a statement it hurts to write. But practically before festival-goers even realized they were safe and the carnage had stopped, fake news was making the rounds.
Conspiracies on 4chan about the identity of the shooter and his political affiliations found their way into Google’s top results and then quickly into “news” blogs, which landed on Facebook feeds. False headlines about the shooter’s religion swirled around the Twitterverse, some based on unverified claims by ISIS were widely reported by US news outlets.
For those who want to spread derogatory or misleading information, the more heart-rending and desperate the moment, the greater the opportunity to spread falsehoods that inspire terror and hate. The million dollar question is what to do about it. So far, neither regulators nor the companies themselves have the answer.
We advocate proactivity communicating both what you know and what you don’t to try to control the story. Work with verifiable sources and influential communicators to help spread a credible message. Be on your guard against fake news, spotting and reporting it whenever possible. Simple checklists like this one can help.
Our thoughts are with the victims, families and friends. No matter what rumors are skulking around online, we know that the truth here is tragedy.
Elsewhere in the world of fake news and digital propaganda, Facebook provided more insight into Russian activity during and around the 2016 presidential elections. Turns out it was basically just textbook digital marketing on a budget.
Despite reaching around 10 million people, the actual amount paid for most ads was minimal, as was, most likely, their immediate impact. But, operatives used Facebook’s (and Twitter’s and maybe even Google’s) targeting capabilities to make sure images were paired with users who would find them resonant, if not incendiary. Instead of repeatedly hammering users with tons of ads at a high cost ($100,000 isn’t nothing in social ad spend, but it’s not necessarily breaking the bank either), targeted users likely only saw one or two ads in the last year, if any at all.
But the ads – although pointed and divisive – weren’t the end in themselves. They were previews, or bait, attempting to draw users to follow pages where more similarly divisive and misleading information could be found. This establishes that page as a regular feature in a user’s News Feed, and, thereby, a channel of information for that user.
The lesson here is two-fold. As a consumer, beware of the content that appears in your feed and check the page that has posted it. As a communications practitioner, building a dedicated audience could just be one targeted, resonant, post away.
Stuart Butterfield, the CEO of Slack, envisions a brave new world of professional communications. The company behind the burgeoning work chat app is marching ahead with machine learning initiatives that could, they say, reduce “information overload”.
Some of these additions seem like kind of simple, personal helpers. For example, when you return to the office from a vacation or get off a flight, your future Slack inbox could prioritize the order of messages you see based on what is most important. Butterfield also uses the example of language analysis, showing you when you’re at your kindest or most aggressive so that you can plan your emails or grab a snack to chill out a little bit.
This latter example opens up quite an important potential for internal communications and employee engagement professionals. Language analysis would also allow Slack to see how people communicate, identifying natural nodes of influence throughout a business.
This isn’t necessarily something Slack plans to roll out tomorrow, but when it does it will have a profound impact on shaping company culture. Until then, keep slacking off.
Facebook tests letting you confirm logins with your face The Verge
Germany’s social media law may force Facebook to be judge, jury, and executioner of free speech Quartz
This browser extension makes you a more ethical shopper with just one click Mashable
Auto-correct has been doing Equinox no favors lately.