Earlier this week, several news outlets reported that a Commons Committee has issued a report warning Mark Zuckerberg that Facebook requires stricter regulation to combat the increasing spread of fake news. Here Ellie Clifford, account executive at technical PR agency Stone Junction, explains how to identify fake news stories to prevent your business from getting stuck in the fake news void. 

Fake news spreads through social media like wildfire. In fact, in a recent study published in Science, researchers based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that fake news is 70 per cent more likely to be retweeted than true stories. This fact remained even when bots were removed from the data set, demonstrating that the issue is prevalent among society.

Social media in the age of fake news
The prevalence of fake news creates a difficulty when running social media accounts for your business. As part of your social media strategy, it’s a good idea to like and share other people’s content to increase your social media presence, share your opinion and engage your audience. However, if you share fake news, not only do you contribute to the crisis, you may also damage your company’s reputation.

There is an old saying in journalism, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” which reminds us to always read with scepticism. This is especially important if the news story is sensational — unfortunately or fortunately, depending on which way you look at it, sensational things don’t happen very often.

If you’re reading a fake news story, you may spot a lack of statistics and references, or it may be that the sources of information do not seem reputable. You may also notice that the logic behind the story does not quite make sense. If you’re unsure, click through to the sources to cross reference whether the news is likely to be true.

Mark Zuckerberg has been warned that Facebook must take measures to reduce its contribution to the spread of fake news.  In the meantime, make sure you always read an article in full and if concerned, check out your sources before retweeting.

If you would help engaging with your social media contacts, get in touch by e-mailing or calling +44 (0)1785 225416.

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