Between fake news, fake apps, and “alternative” facts, there seems to be no let-up in the barrage of misleading and outright false messaging. Fake news is not new, but its amplification through social media gives it a new dimension, causing it to become more pervasive. Unlike the PR spin, fake news is completely and intentionally made up. And because of the false narrative, a slight blend of truth to a story can make it difficult to discern the accuracy of its claims. Not surprisingly, this has created an opportunity to influence and exploit for political or personal gains.
Social media has rapidly become an integral part of all of our lives – it is the primary source for news and updates. The epidemic of fake news and alternative facts spread quickly like wildfire on social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter – reaching tens of millions of people in milliseconds! If you use any social media platform (duh!), you’ve probably been hit by some of these. Information doesn’t need to be true or funny to go viral – it can be a half-truth or even an outright lie.
Sometimes it may be something that fits a certain narrative that we have in our mind about a person or organization and we want so much for it to be true that we fall for it. On the other hand, a story is so outrageous that it’s easy to spot. No more was this more evident than during the 2016 US elections. Let’s see – “Hillary Clinton has brain Damage!”; “Pope Francis endorses Donald Trump!”; “Democrats to impose Sharia Law in Florida!”
Algorithms are part of what spreads fake news – because false stories which become popular can be pushed out by the software that runs social networks. But some programmers think computer code could also be part of the solution.
Google and Facebook have announced measures to combat fake viral stories online. Google has added a new feature, i.e. Fact Check (https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/07/fact-check-the-world-is-flat/) to Search and News to identify news reports as having been fact-checked by other news publishers and fact-checking organizations. Facebook is testing a new tool, located at the top of the News Feed to users in 14 countries (http://www.ubergizmo.com/2017/04/facebook-creates-new-tool-to-combat-fake-news/). It is an educational project intended to help people spot and stop fake news from going viral.
Advertisers can help to solve this issue by paying closer attention to where their ads run and the environment in which their brand messages appear. For publications and news outlets – once the financial incentives for running click-bait, fake headlines disappear – the number of false news stories will decline.
What Can We Do?
- Beware the click bait: One way that fake news gets amplified or sensationalized is because busy readers may not look past the headline before they decide to share an article. Go through the whole article – you may find that it actually has nothing to do with the headline!
- Check out the news outlet: To trust or not to trust? Again, go beyond the pop-ups and loud ads. Google a site’s name and check out similar articles on various sites to determine if it’s trustworthy. Pay close attention to URL names of pages that look suspect to make sure that it’s not a spam site pretending to be a trusted source.
- Who’s the author: Looking at the writer of an article can reveal a lot of information about the news source. Searching through the author’s previous articles can show whether they are a legitimate journalist or have a history of “misleading and false” articles.
- Know your source: A lack of links or sources for claims in an article is an obvious red flag that the post may be false. Fake sites also provide numerous links to sites that appear to back up their claims, but are themselves spreading misinformation.
- Photos or photo-shopped: It’s common to take a photo from one event and say it is from another. Images can also be altered for a certain story. Reverse image searches on Google, Facebook, and TinEye can help you find where an image originated.
- Fact-check and verify: People are often drawn to stories that reinforce the way they see the world and how they feel about certain issues. It’s important to check that news stories are based on fact, rather than sharing them because they support one side of an argument to bolster belief or support.
Can We Ever Escape Fake News?
Unfortunately, there’s no one simple solution but we can start by not sharing stories just because they make us mad or tug at our heartstrings. News rightly gets an emotional rise out of us when a story is true, but when it’s false, that emotion can give power to baseless accusations and sow seeds of doubt. We can probably never escape it all together. But it’s up to each of us to use our intellect and common sense.
Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia
In the ruthless digital storm of today, it is no longer “I am blogging this” but “I am blogging this now” that will keep your readers hooked. Live blogging can actually be an extremely valuable resource to your readers if done right. When information is succinct and posts are thoughtful, useful and focused throughout, they may consider your blog the go-to blog for event coverage.
Quintessentially, live blogging is the posting of regular updates to one’s blog as the respective event is taking place, as opposed to blogging after the event itself. It definitely requires preparation, and the number one rule – never run out of power!
– the laptop
– the digital camera
– the video camera
– the digital recorder
– notepad & pens when your wrists need a break
– miscellaneous – power cords, batteries, charger, sweets (to stay awake)
- Find internet access
Do contact the staff in advance to ask if there will be wireless internet access available in order to stave off disaster. It wouldn’t be a live blog if you’re not blogging live. If disaster strikes, call a friend and have them put up a notice that you are experiencing difficulties on your live blog.
- Schedule/Rank most popular events
Dedicate your time to blog the portions that you know will be popular. Treat the event like a collection of websites, and hone in on the presentations that you have mentally assigned as the highest ranking page.
- Use visuals
Pictures are unquestionably a great adjunct to any live blog. With the popularity of platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram, there is no question that visuals appeal to audiences. However, make sure you clear the use of digital cameras and other recording devices with the event staff beforehand – recording live video or audio would be ideal. This acts to complement your live blog, not to substitute your content. You can always go back afterward to cut out the more interesting snippets to post on your website. It will also cement you as a professional in the eyes on those viewing your live blog.
Remember to refer back to your live blog later and use it as research to piece together more cohesive blog posts for your website.
Choosing the Right Platform
On the other hand, depending on the scale and type of event and its following, you need to consider first and foremost if live blogging is your best option. The fact is that while live blogging reflects tech savvy, some events just are not suited to it. For example, if an event is very dry, in-depth or complicated in its content, blogging it live may be inappropriate and counter-productive.
This may be especially so as such events that rely on the accuracy and depth of what you are covering. Thus, it would make more sense to draft a proper blog post.
Depending on the demographics of your readers, one could also take a hybrid approach. That is to live blog interesting snippets of the event itself, especially if something unexpected happens. This can then be supplemented with a full-length post that covers the event proper.
Embracing the Times
There is a host of other mediums one can use to reach out for coverage. Social media networks such as Flickr, Ustream.tv, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram are just some of this growing number. Live blogging can also be done using WordPress, ScribbleLive, and CoverItLive. The key here is not necessarily to be the best live blogger, because then you are limited to your platform. What is more important here is to be a great communicator. This way, as trends and tools change, your readers will always be loyal to your input and voice.
A live blog will get more hits the day of the event than any other time. We are a society of instant media gratification junkies and this provides the instant fix we crave. While live blogging may not replace traditional blogging anytime soon (or at all), it may encourage it to become lengthier and meatier than it has been in the past. Instead of offering just the quick breakdown that the live blog offers, bloggers will have to inject more qualified statistics and observations in their post-event content to make people want to read their posts in addition to the live blog coverage.
Posted by Yiwen Ng, PR Executive, Corporate Media
21 October 2013 | Categories: Public Relations, Social Media | Tags: blog, blogging, CoverItLive, effectiveness, Flickr, Instagram, journalism, live, must-haves, Pinterest, PR, public, relations, ScibbleLive, Tumblr, twitter, Ustream.tv, Wordpress | Leave a comment
Twitter’s upcoming I.P.O, valued at USD $10 billion according to analysts, will definitely be another market-shaking event. The IPO market has been relatively quiet since Facebook’s USD $16 billion stock sale last year. This calls for an updated look into how the social network has impacted this digitised world that we live in.
Ever wonder what has become of the long-standing debate between quality and quantity in having more twitter followers? It seems that the competitive side of social media users rears its ugly head, especially since the number of followers or friends is displayed publicly.
Social media users have probably caught themselves thinking at least once, “I have more followers than you. Ha!”
If we really sat down and thought about it, what exactly have we won? Unless your future job specifically requires you to have substantial following like an advertiser, to the rest of us it is just a number of underwhelming arbitrary value. Would you rather have a Twitter follower who essentially remains just a number, or would you rather have convertible traffic on your own website?
Scarily, many are too caught up in a baffling numbers race. In fact, it is no longer the case that people are unaware of the value of quality relationships. Now, many have consciously decided that superficial temporal popularity is more beneficial.
Celebrity Kim Kardashian doesn’t have the most followers on Twitter, but she once had more traffic referrals from Twitter than anybody else. This comes as a surprise to many when put in comparison with other celebrities such as Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, both of whom have substantially more following. We also do not exactly pin her as the role model type. Her followers (then numbering 5 million) proved to be more than just a number when they clicked on her links more than any other celebrity.
Valuable followship sparks fellowship – or at least some kind of response and action.
The socialite tweets personable, relatable click bait. Fans are alerted about pictures of her European outfits, a contest to attend her birthday party, a breast cancer awareness drive — the kind of content her fans clearly want to see. The rest of her tweets are social. Such a statement seems obvious until you scan other streams that reek of PR and marketing influence, begging followers to buy a product or consume content. Other celebrity streams are almost entirely link-free and designed to facilitate interaction around that individual’s personality rather than create a desired action in the user.
In short, Kardashian’s Twitter stream is optimized to gracefully direct traffic to her website.
It’s far better to attract them through great content, be it educational, entertaining or engaging. This is as opposed to the you-follow-me-I’ll-follow-you approach. This way, you attract people who are following you for a reason. Thousands of additional followers who aren’t listening to what you have to say are not worth much at all. Your value isn’t based on your follower count; it’s based on the value of our interactions, the strength of our relationships, the nature of our reputation, and the integrity with which we use our communications tools.
There is no inherent value in a superficial connection.
Posted by Yiwen Ng, Public Relations Executive, Corporate Media