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Dealing with fake news as the Web turns 30


Written by Chris Hewitt

2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the World Wide Web’s birth and, according to its creator, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, it’s also the time to step up the fight against disinformation online.

Announced back in November 2018 and due to be finalised by May 2019, the Contract for the Web is focused on tackling some of the issues that have come to plague the Web, and is backed by Governments and major tech players like Facebook and Google.

Knowing that such heavyweight support is coming in the future should be encouraging for all of us, but there are things businesses can do for themselves today to mitigate against the threat posed by disinformation or, as President Trump would have us refer to it, ‘fake news’ online.

Some of the tried and tested methods we advocate are:

  • Building proof into your story. With trust in the media low, anything you disseminate to the press needs to be robust and reliable. Reputable stats build trust in the story (and brand), so don’t quote data for the sake of it – make sure it’s validated.

  • Making it sharable. It’s not just videos of cats or the latest celebrity gossip that go viral on social media. If the story is relatable, it will get shared. Even CEOs can become social media sensations featuring in the right kind of content. Understand what your audience needs and build that into the heart of your activity.

  • Creating a sense of tension, within reason. Despite how it sounds, adding an element of drama doesn’t diminish a story. It can in fact enhance it and take the content from interesting to engaging. But don’t create false drama. Don’t overstate your case with wild claims.

Back in February 2018, we released a report into the impact of fake news and it continues to remain relevant today. You can download the full document, including a host of insights from Arlington Research, by visiting here.