Fighting back against fake news

Facebook recently implemented a new policy to address the issue of fake news, which has been an election year issue and a source of great concern for everyone from law enforcement to celebrities and corporations alike.

This new policy relies on Facebook users to report what they believe to be bogus news. If enough reports are submitted, Facebook will refer the story to a third-party fact checking organization (another controversy for another day) and tag the story as “disputed.” Additionally, Facebook has adjusted its algorithm so that disputed stories appear lower in news feeds, thereby reducing a story’s virality.

The policy has sparked debate: A responsible corporate decision by Facebook to avert potentially dangerous situations or is it a move toward censorship?

The question closer to home for most organizations is: “Can we rely solely on Facebook to protect us from fake news spreading about our organization?” The answer is a resounding, “No.”

As with every type of potential crisis, all companies and organizations need to be aware of the issue and have an action plan to combat such attacks. The plan needs to incorporate three basic strategies: (1) social media, (2) traditional media and (3) direct e-mail marketing.

Your organization has invested time and resources into building a social media following. When under attack by fake news, it’s imperative to use all of your own social platforms to counter the attack with your content and message. Now is the time to activate that network and the good will your organization has established.

Reaching out to trusted editors and reporters who cover your industry can also help to set the record straight in legitimate earned media accounts and create another line of defense against fake news.

Finally, a direct e-mail campaign may be the quickest way to reach key stake holders and critical audiences, such as shareholders, with the facts and a clear and concise message and call to action.

Unfortunately, fake news is here to stay, but with a specific action plan or an update to your company’s current crisis communications plan you and your organization can be prepared for whatever comes across the news feed.

 

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