Businesses and celebrities have been under a growing attack from websites that publish fake news. Both large and small companies, nonprofit organizations, entertainers, athletes, politicians and other well-known people never know when a fake news story might accuse them of criminal, immoral or bizarre behavior. One fake news story can produce enormous damage to a reputation and brand image, especially if it goes viral on social media.
But businesses and well-known individuals can now defend themselves from those attacks with the help of a new media monitoring service.
The Glean.info Fake News Media Monitoring Service collects content from more than 2,000 online news sources that are known to publish false, outlandish, extremist, extremely slanted or satiric information. The service also monitors online fact-checking services to identify stories that the services are correcting. Most fake news stories on social media originate on the fake news sites that the Glean.info service monitors.
The media monitoring service delivers timely email alerts to clients when a potentially image-damaging story in a fake news site mentions clients’ names or other selected keywords. That information enables organizations, celebrities or their PR agents to promptly rebut fake news reports.
PR and crisis communications experts typically recommend companies and celebrities use media monitoring to protect their reputations. “From a monitoring perspective, companies would be well served to identify fake news as early as possible,” writes corporate communications expert Shel Holtz in his Holtz Communication + Technology blog. “That means tweaking existing monitoring services to watch for fake news. It also means keeping an eye on the sites that are known to produce it. With all the news about fake news, the worst thing to do is nothing.”
Types of Fake News Sites
Every day, unscrupulous characters publish thousands of made-up stories online about companies and celebrities to gain a financial advantage, sway opinion or cause damage. They include anti-corporate activists, stock short sellers, disgruntled customers, political or social radicals, hate-mongers, hired hands of competitors, and even unethical publicity agents. Some fake news sites espouse extreme political views. Others publish fake news to attract website traffic and gain advertising income. Still others create satirical articles that can be misinterpreted as fact and cause the same problems as fake news. Some fake stories are outlandish; others are quite believable. The fake news sites often mimic the appearance of legitimate mainstream publishers.
The spread of fake news has damaged trust in American corporations. Trust in companies headquartered in the U.S. dropped from 55 to 50 percent from the previous year, according to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer. “Persistent references to fake news, linked to headlines around foreign government election manipulation have, unsurprisingly, had a cumulative, deep effect on the public. The inability to stem the perceived surge in disinformation has proven toxic,” say Lisa Ross, Edelman president, and Stephen Kehoe, Edelman global chair, reputation.
Complements Traditional Media Monitoring
Clients of the Glean.info Fake News Media Monitoring Service choose up to five (5) corporate, brand or personal names to be monitored. They can also monitor keywords or phrases for issues. Subscribers to the fake news monitoring service can request that Glean.info add specific fake news sites that they want monitored.
The retail price for the service is $99 a month. An introductory offer of $49 a month runs until July 30. There’s no free trial offer. The service does not include analytics.
The fake news monitoring service is designed as an adjunct and complementary service to traditional media monitoring services for online news, print, broadcast news and social media. The fake news monitoring service can be ordered as a separate service.
Why Fake News Poses a Problem
Research has shown that fake news, also called false news, spreads faster and to more people than real news articles. Untruthful news is 70 percent more likely to be retweeted on Twitter than true news, according to researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. False news or misinformation spreads because it’s more novel than true news, and people are more likely to share novel information, the researchers conclude.
“Concern over the problem is global. However, much remains unknown regarding the vulnerabilities of individuals, institutions, and society to manipulations by malicious actors. A new system of safeguards is needed,” a group of 16 political scientists and legal scholars wrote in Science.
Many concerned academics and business leaders have attempted to limit fake news reports, but the problem has turned out to be more complicated than some may have first thought. One issue is a wide range of different types of misinformation that may call for different responses. Solutions don’t seem imminent. The only available solution for businesses, nonprofits and celebrities is to remain on guard and monitor fake news websites.
Steps to Combatting Fake News & Other Misinformation
In addition to monitoring fake news websites, PR and crisis management experts recommend that organizations:
- Include fake news in crisis management plans. Review responsibilities, content and workflow. Scenario plan for a fake news attack.
- Immediately issue press statements and social media posts to deny false news about the brand.
- Seek a takedown of the original story but realize that legal action may have little impact.
- Consider paid media to counter misinformation.
- Work with brand advocates and ambassadors to correct misinformation.
- Do not republish attacks. Instead share positive content that counters fake news.
- Recognize the difference between fake news and satire. Any response to satire should be appropriate.
Bottom Line: Businesses, nonprofits and celebrities remain vulnerable to false news attacks. Thousands of fake news websites publish often-damaging fictional stories about companies and well-known individuals. A media monitoring service that monitors fake news sites can safeguard reputations of organizations and celebrities.
Order the Fake News Monitoring Service today.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.