“If you read it online, it must be true” has always been a useful, if deeply sarcastic, quip to hold people accountable when they share false information.
When confirmation of an argument, an opinion, an image is nothing more than a click away, it will rapidly overwhelm any ability to sort out facts in a sensible way – that is, identifying the truth.
What’s long been repeated as a joke about information found online is becoming all too serious as our media consumption habits evolve.
The facts have now become clear:
- Falsehoods are 70% more likely to be retweeted on Twitter than truths.
- Real users are more likely to accelerate the spread of false information, or “fake news,” than bots.
The worst part is that no one really knows exactly why this is happening outside of “human nature” in gravitating toward more sensational news that supports previously held opinions.
Given these facts, the need to cut through the noise to find and interact with authentic conversations, people, and topics is increasingly essential.
These aren’t just studies and statistics to be filed away, they’re already having a real world impact and costing brands money and trust.
One fake tweet caused a research firm’s stock to crater 28%, which then led to a pause in its trading.
Another inaccurate tweet caused a 0.9% decline in the S&P, destroying $130 billion in market value.
Media contributors, in the flurry to be “first” with news, or a blazing hot take on events, will post inaccurate information on Twitter, often leaving a falsehood-filled tweet up for hours, racking up thousands of retweets in the process.
And IF a retraction or deletion is made, by that time it’s too late. The damage has been done – 16,000 retweets for wrong information, a mere 300 for the correction.
Even the Washington Post fell into the trap recently, when many journalists completely misinterpreted a DNA test. “We should have not relied on media reporting before tweeting,” they wrote afterwards.
Tom Petty said it best, “you believe what you wanna believe.”
That’s why it’s critical to build a movement around your brand – advocates who are willing to challenge falsehoods and defend the truth. It’s the only way to truly remain in control of your narrative, and to properly shape the perception of your brand, before someone without all the facts creates chaos.
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