Why we don’t talk about Fake News anymore

The words 'fake news' crossed out

Fake News. It was the phrase on everyone’s lips. But no more. Journalists and communications professionals alike are junking the term. Why?

Because it’s too simplistic. Fake news is whatever you think is fake, and we all have our natural biases. And who determines what’s fake when the facts themselves are in question?

The alternative is more complex, but that’s life.

So you won’t hear people at 360 integrated PR speak about fake news. UNESCO has launched a guide which defines three terms to highlight difference types of damaging information.

  • Misinformation – information that is false, but has not been created with the intention of causing harm
  • Malinformation – information which is based on reality, used to inflict harm on a person, social group, organisation or country
  • Disinformation – information that is false and is deliberately created to harm a person, social group, organisation or country

dog looking at computer

It’s important that businesses of all sizes understand that these three damaging scenarios can begin from anywhere. While state-sponsored bots are responsible for starting many scare stories, they tend to be spread by humans. And they may simply result from someone misunderstanding what you have said or what someone else has said about you. Or your business may simply be the victim of someone’s clickbait, created for commercial gain.

That’s why understanding what social media is reporting about you, your business and your industry is so vital. If you don’t know how to do this, give us a call; there are plenty of free and low-cost tools available to help you track what’s going on in social media. But, of course, it’s not just about having the right tools – you need the right people to analyse the data and they need the right training.

By the way, it’s come to our attention that nothing is new under the sun. In 1688, King James II issued a Proclamation Against Spreading of False News regarding rumours of an invasion of England by the Prince of Orange. As we know, that year did not end well for King James.

So perhaps the proclamation is a historic example of someone in authority claiming the truth was fake. Just as well we don’t face that problem anymore…

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