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  • 18.04.17
  • by Racheal Broomfield

Barry Pollock has turned his back on Sunderland AFC after losing faith in the relegation battle…

Did we get your attention? Thought so! Don’t worry, Barry hasn’t actually turned his back on the club (well not yet anyway!) but it just shows what a ‘fake’ headline can achieve!

Admit it, you’ve all been fooled by a deceiving headline, whether it was ‘Selfie sticks? How about selfie shoes?’ or ‘Obama admits to singing in the shower’ they’ve become the ‘norm’ on social media, which is one of the reasons why 59% of all links shared on social media aren’t clicked on at all.

The ‘fake news’ phenomenon hit the headlines during the 2016 US election as attention grabbing headlines and inaccurate stories about candidates started to appear on news feeds across America, so much so that these fake news stories ended up generating more engagement on Facebook than the top election stories from 19 major news outlets combined.

Although ‘fake news’ is more of a problem in the US, it has already started to affect consumer confidence in the UK. I’ve lost count of the number of articles I’ve clicked through to where the headlines bears no relevance to the story and it’s recently been reported that 47% of people say they are suspicious that the stories they’re reading online are true, meaning nearly half of news readers have lost faith in our media outlets.

Although ‘fake news’ has become a hot topic of conversation over the last couple of months, it’s not new in the media world. Newspapers and magazines have for a long time created stories that have obscured or exaggerated the truth, taken something out of context or don’t have credible sources to make it more newsworthy. But with the rise of digital media, there’s a new angle on ‘fake news’ and it’s becoming harder to control.

In a bid to combat this, Google has announced this week they are starting to roll out a new feature which will tag news stories true or false. The new feature will highlight which articles organisations have checked out their facts before publishing and they’ll be placed above any articles without credible sources in search engine results.

Facebook has also just launched ‘tips for spotting fake news’. You might see when going on the network in the next few days that you’ll get an alert directing you to the Facebook Help Centre – once you’ve landed on the page, Facebook will give you top tips on how you can spot ‘fake news’.  Both companies believe this will lower the amount of ‘fake news’ we see and consume every day and tries to educate us to make us a bit more sceptical of content rather than taking it at face value.

19% of people are now less likely to trust an advertorial in a news source they do not trust.  As Facebook and Google are trying to tackle the problem on their sites, it’s important we play our part for our brands by being honest and consistent.

Your brand’s reputation is important, don’t risk consumers’ trust for the sake of a few more views!