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Holtz Communications + Technology | Blog



blogging at the intersection of communication and technology



Published: 2016-12-09T22:44:00+00:00

 



Friday Wrap #196: NFL lightens up, Tinder has a podcast, Starbucks launches a chatbot

2016-12-09T22:44:00+00:00

I extract items for the Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing. News Facebook patents tool to remove fake news—Facebook has filed a patent for “systems and methods to identify objectionable content.” The technology has been in the works since 2015 but takes on new urgency with CEO Mark Zuckerberg asserting Facebook has to come up with “better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves.” The takeaway: This is good news for business, which is fast becoming the new target for fake news. On the other hand, I worry that a technology like this will target legitimate satire (like The Onion) and the expression of opinion. Read more NFL lightens up (a little) on GIFs and video—Among the professional sports leagues, none are more authoritarian than the National Football League (NFL), which has slammed the door on video and GIF sharing during games. According to a recent memo, the NFL is now letting teams post non-highlight GIFs and videos (that feature no on-field action), but no more than the 16-video limit. They can also post five clips to Snapchat during a game and stream three non-game day press conferences on Facebook Live. The NFL apparently also is testing a partnership with Giphy, which may become a source of “ancillary game and historical/iconic” GIFs. The takeaway: Baby steps. Any move in the right direction is better than the draconian rules the NFL has imposed on its teams. To see what teams can do without these restrictions, check out the NBA. Read more Reddit acts to keep ads from appearing on conspiracy-driven topics—Reddit’s conspiracy subreddit hasn’t always been a home to serious conspiracy nuts; it used to be just harmless banter. But that has changed as part of the troubling rise of fake news and unsubstantiated memes (like the PizzaGate tale that led to an arrest after a man motivated by reading fake news opened fire in a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant). To address the problem, Reddit has added the conspiracy subreddit to its “no ads” list. The takeaway: As with Facebook’s patent, above, this is another effort to disassociate brands from craziness. But brands will have to monitor where their own content appears, too rather than hope ad exchanges and social sites will take care of everything for them. Read more Tinder rolls out a podcast with a data-driven foundation—Dating app Tinder is the latest company to introduce a podcast. DTR (Define the Relationship) is a six-part series that covers dating-related issues in the digital age (e.g., how to build an online profile). Tindr is relying on data to help frame the episodes. For example, the first episode looks at the tendency for people to start an online dating encounter with the message, “hey.” The episode points out that you’re more likely to get a response if you use a GIF than just say, “hey.” Tinder knows because the GIF search engine baked into the Tinder app reveals that people use GIFs on the app are 30% more likely to get a response and have conversations that last twice as long. The company will promote the podcast within the app. The takeaway: A dating-focused podcast from a company associated with it is a great idea, but what really excites me here is creating content based on data. I reported a similar effort last week, from Stoli, which mined Google Trends to determine what kind of content would be popular on Instagram. Read more Top VR players create an association—The Global Virtual Reality Association is a non-profit collaboration of Google, Oculus (from Facebook), Vive (from HTC), Acer, Samsung, and Sony. The association’s website says its goal is to promote responsible development and adoption. It promises members will develop and share best practices, conduct research, and bring the international VR community together. It will also be a resource for consumers, p[...]



FIR Podcast #64: That’s Not Our Shark!

2016-12-06T01:24:00+00:00

Cross-posted from the FIR Podcast Network Chris Abraham, Cindy Crescenzo, and Steve Farnsworth join host Shel Holtz to talk about these topics: Breitbart News called for a boycott of Kellogg’s after the cereal company pulled its ads, then started publishing articles critical of the company after calling the decision to withdraw advertising “censorship.” Is this the new reality for companies making what used to be simple business decisions? Employee engagement surveys aren’t worth much anymore according to one expert, since people are more concerned about survey scores than addressing engagement issues. Is it time to stop measuring engagement? Virtual Reality headset sales aren’t setting any records. Can public relations help make it go mainstream? With the Amazon Echo and Google Home, along with Siri and Google Now, it’s fast becoming a voice-driven world. Brands and agencies will have to adapt. A lot has happened on the fake news front since we first reported on it, including a shooting in Washington, D.C. by a North Carolina man “self-investigating” a fake news story. We’ll bring you up to date. Brands have jumped on the emoji bandwagon, but audiences think they’re trying too hard. Figuring out what people are talking about using Google Trends is a better way to do real-time marketing. Dan York reports on the Internet Governance Forum this week in Mexico, a panel last week on Internet fragmentation (which communicators don’t want), and WordPress’s move toward promoting more SSL/TLS. Connect with our panelists on Twitter at @ChrisAbraham, @CreativeComms, and @Stevology. Links to the source material for this episode are on [...]



Friday Wrap #195: Breitbart’s boycott, a corporate memo ban, the rise of voice tech, and more

2016-12-02T21:46:00+00:00

I extract items for the Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing. Alerts Writing for Mobile—As part of a client project, I have been researching the living daylights out of best practices, empirical studies, and real-world experiences when it comes to writing for mobile devices (mainly smartphones). I’ll share what I’ve learned in a webinar scheduled for noon EST on December 14. Register Excellence in New Communication Awards—If you have produced work that reflects innovation in the use of digital and social media, mobile media, collaborative technologies, virtual reality, or other emerging digital communications technologies, then you want to make sure to enter it in the 2017 SNCR Excellence in New Communication Awards. Unlike other competitions, the Society for New Communication Research—now part of The Conference Board—turns winners into case studies. The deadline for entries is February 3. Read more News Breitbart launches boycott after Kellogg’s pulls ads—Kellogg’s decided to pull its advertising from far-right news site Breitbart.com based on increased scrutiny of its populist, anti-immigrant views which, the company said, conflicted with its own values. In response, Breitbart News has launched a petition encouraging readers to boycott Kellogg’s products. It is also running stories critical of the company, including an Amnesty International claim that Kellogg’s uses child labor. Alex Marlow, Breitbart’s editor-in-chief, wrote, “For Kellogg’s, an American brand, to blacklist Breitbart News in order to placate left-wing totalitarians is a disgraceful act of cowardice.” The takeaway: Companies used to be able to make advertising decisions without being dragged into controversy. No more. Even simple ad placement decisions can result in fairly savage attacks. Be prepared. Also, it’s worth noting that left-leaning consumers have been posting their intention to increase their Kellogg’s purchases to offset the boycott and support the company’s decision. Read more Reddit announces changes after CEO apology—Reddit CEO Steve Huffman has apologies for editing comments made about him in a pro-Donald Trump subreddit. At the same time, he announced the introduction of filters in the r/all subreddit that let people filter out subreddits from their r/all page (so you don’t have to see pro-Trump messages, for example). The takeaway: That had to be a hard choice for a site that has proclaimed itself a bastion of open and free speech. It points to the challenges social sites face in balancing free speech with managing a venue where people feel reasonably safe from hate speech and other offensive commentary. If you’re waiting for the perfect solution, please don’t hold your breath. Read more FTC disclosure guidelines: They’re not just for superstars anymore—The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been clear that when Miley Cyrus or Kim Kardashian get paid to promote a product on Instagram or some other venue, disclosure of the paid relationship is required. Consumer watchdogs have noticed ordinary people with just a few followers are also exerting influence on behalf of brands, many without using “#ad” or “#paid” signals to inform followers that they were compensated for the post. Public Citizen is among the organizations calling attention to “micro-influencers” in a letter to the FTC. The takeaway: If you lead an influencer marketing campaign, it doesn’t matter how well-known your influencers are. You must insist that they play by the rules and disclose the relationship in their posts. Read more Levi’s CEO stakes position on open-carry on LinkedIn—Levi Strauss & Co. CEO Chip Bergh took to LinkedIn to ask Levi customers to refrain from carrying weapons into the company’s sto[...]



Are your employee ambassadors equipped to deal with trolls?

2016-12-01T00:19:00+00:00

Trolls are not a new problem, but their impact has soared in recent months. Much of the increase in troll activity corresponds to the normalization of the alt-right (aka racist/nationalist) movement that paralleled Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Reddit is feeling the heat. The collaborative news site heralded as “the front page of the Internet” and a bastion of “authentic conversations” has been overrun by nationalist trolls, according to high-ranking volunteer moderators interviewed by Gizmodo. Mashable called Reddit “a free speech-smashing, garbage-churning hell pit.” Twitter has been working to muzzle racist trolls, suspending accounts and launching tools users can use to mute, report, and fight back, a response to the surge in hate-fueled tweets. The emboldening of alt-right trolls is happening at the same time companies are asking employees to advocate for them in their social media communities. Employee ambassador programs are on the rise for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact (corroborated annually by the Edelman Trust Barometer) that front-line employees are among the most credible spokespeople within a company. A report from the Altimeter Group found that 90% of brands are pursuing some form of employee advocacy—a doubling of the number from only a year earlier. The normalizing of employee ambassador programs parallels another trend: the growing number of companies staking out positions on social issues. Multiple studies point to the growing number of stakeholders who prefer to do business with companies that go beyond traditional CSR and commit resources to making the world a better place. These three trends—trolls, employee ambassador programs, and socially-active companies—are on a collision course. In one of his weekly reports on my podcast, For Immediate Release, Internet Society Senior Content Strategist Dan York explained that it had already happened at his employer. The Society supported the handoff of the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) to a global multistakeholder community following the expiration of the contract between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). As Dan explained it, NTIA’s role was to confirm ICANN’s technical instructions that root DNS operator Verisign would use to connect a new top-level domain (TLD) to the domain name registry with which ICANN contracted to operate the domain. “NTIA would look at (the instructions) and say, ‘Yep, ICANN followed all its processes; yep, everything’s all set here; yep, good to go. Make it happen, Verisign.’ And Verisign would then do it and (the new TLD) would then be published and all would be good. That’s it. That’s all that was being argued here.” Forces on the political right, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, believed otherwise, arguing that the U.S. was ceding control of the Internet (which is patently untrue and demonstrates an all-too-familiar lack of understanding among politicians of how technology works). In launching an attempt to prevent the handover, right-wing trolls began attacking anyone who supported or even tried to explain what was happening. That included Internet Society employees who had unwittingly taken to their own communities to promote their employer’s support for the handoff. “When you take a position,” Dan said, “you, of course, have opposition very often if it’s a strong position. We at the Internet Society came out very strongly in support of (the handoff). When Sen Ted Cruz and others were there whipping up the alt-right and others, we were out there, and I was personally out there, saying, ‘We need to say yes to IANA; we need to make this happen.’” Supporters of the alt-right were robust in their attacks on supporters of the handoff, acc[...]



FIR Podcast #63: A Discounted Christmas Lobster

2016-11-29T00:10:00+00:00

Cross-posted from the FIR Podcast Network Jim Hawker, co-founder and owner of Threepipe, a London-based PR and digital marketing agency, and experience architect Andrea Vascellari weighed in on the following topics: The reputations of the S&P 500 are worth nearly 44 trillion of shareholder value, more than $1 out of every $5 Speaking of reputation, Sony has filed a patent for a process to assess the reputation of journalists and their articles British grocery upstart Lidl has gotten a lot of positive buzz for its “Social Price Drop” campaign In a recent post, Brian Solis urged companies to go mobile-first How should communicators react to the disruption social platforms are causing established media? Dan York reports on data breaches, the imminent release of WordPress 4.7, the upcoming WordPress USA event, and an episode of the podcast 99% Invisible dealing with acoustics Facebook blocked Admiral Insurance from accessing Facebook user data to make decisions about how much to charge for premiums Diageo created an immersive VR video to experience a drunk-driving car crash from the first-person perspective Brands and agencies are jumping on the Snapchat Spectacles bandwagon; is there something to it or are they just chasing the newest shiny object? Connect with our panelists on Twitter at @JimJimHawker and @vascellari. Links to the source material for this episode are on Contentle. Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music. About today’s panel: Jim Hawker is Co-Founder and Business Development Director of Threepipe, a PR and digital marketing agency of 70 people based in London. The agency runs campaigns across PR, SEO and paid media for clients across business, consumer, sports and entertainment sectors. Jim has 20 years’ experience working both in house and agency side in both the UK and US. In his spare time he is a big sports fan as well as an avid reader of Sherlock Holmes (hence the connection to the Threepipe name). Andrea Vascellari, host of FIR on StrategyAndrea Vascellari is an Experience Architect. He works at the intersection of digital transformation and experience design to help organizations develop their communications strategies. Andrea is an award-winning communications professional with over 15 years of professional experience and a deep understanding of marketing and communications, including public and media relations. He worked as Director of Digital and Content at WPP, world leader in advertising and marketing services, as Digital Planner at the leading global communications marketing firm Edelman, and as CEO of Itive, an international digital strategy agency he founded with offices in Finland and New York. [...]



Friday Wrap #194: Anonymous blogging, cribbing Wikipedia, fake Google, marketing fear

2016-11-25T20:01:00+00:00

A very happy Thanksgiving weekend to my American readers! I extract items for the Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing. News Anonymous blogging platform launches—Telegram—the popular privacy-focused messaging app that features robust encryption and self-destructing messages—has introduced a new blogging platform that lets people share stories anonymously without the need to register for an account. Dubbed Telegraph, the service is “the most lightweight blogging platform ever,” according to TNW. visit the site, add a title and your name (or pseudonym), and add text, images, tweets, and videos, then hit publish. Without a profile, you can’t collate your posts. There’s no commenting, either, and there’s nowhere to see Telegraph posts except when the URL for each individual item has been shared via social channels. The takeaway: This sounds great for quick publishing-and-sharing, but as the article notes, the potential for misuse is significant. It would be easy to publish under somebody else’s name. Telegraph could easily become the latest venue for fake news. Read more The Pentagon plagiarized Wikipedia—The U.S. Defense Department plagiarized Wikipedia as part of its effort to justify its decision to build a new intelligence analysis center rather than use its existing facilities. A document submitted to various Congressional chairperson by a deputy defense secretary used information “directly copied from Wikipedia.” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told the deputy secretary, “I’m just alarmed…that we would rely on Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia that’s famously known for most high school students plagiarizing their homework. And that the Department of Defense would even use Wikipedia, a free online service, to provide any information to Congress to put in any report.” The takeaway: If the Defense Department is doing it, you can believe that Wikipedia passages are showing up in business documents, too. Read more Google tells you how busy a place is right now—Google has enhanced is Popular Times feature to show just how busy a restaurant, coffee shop, or bar is right now. Since the tool was introduced last year, it showed the ebb and flow of crowds based on patterns, but now it is applying anonymized local data and searches to figure out how crowded a place is in real time. The takeaway: I expect this kind of data to expand to all retail locations, which could incentivize companies to provide faster service in order to avoid customers opting to visit a competitor rather than deal with crowds. Some businesses could even use the data to demonstrate how popular they are. Read more Facebook Live tests real-time ads—How do you let someone know you’re broadcasting right now via Facebook Live? If a Facebook test pays off, you may be able to advertise it. The ads appear in newsfeeds as the live stream is taking place. They could pay off, based on one cosmetic company’s experiment boosting a live video that performed significantly better than its videos that didn’t include paid promotion. The takeaway: I’m cautiously optimistic that paid ads will create more exposure for streaming videos people actually want to see, rather than clutter newsfeeds with unwanted promotions for video streams in which they have no interest. Read more Analytics now available for Messenger chatbots—Facebook announced it is adding chatbot performance to its Facebook analytics for Apps. Brands will now be able to obtain insights about users interacting with the chatbots they have launched on Messenger. Among the metrics available are the number of messages sent and received, along with user blocks and unblocks. Reports will also provide aggregate, anonymi[...]



Is your copy mobile-ready? Dec. 14 webinar will get you up to speed

2016-11-22T16:18:00+00:00

Register: for the “Writing for Mobile” webinarat noon EST on Wednesday, December 14   I was talking recently with a colleague about crafting content for mobile. “You don’t actually write for mobile,” he said. “You write for the web. People just read it when they find it on their smartphone.” That’s a pretty common assumption. Just yesterday an item from Business to Community crossed my feed that noted, “Too many business owners think that all they have to do is convert their regular desktop site into a mobile-friendly one.” It would be great if it were that easy. There is ample research, though, revealing dramatic differences between how people read a computer screen and how they read on their phones. Knowing how to write for mobile is even more important when you look at some of the latest numbers from Facebook. It wasn’t that long ago that Facebook announced it had surpassed 1 billion monthly active users. That number has risen to nearly 1.8 billion users, 1 billion of whom access Facebook solely on smartphones. One billion people also access Facebook daily, meaning a lot of your regular readers never see what you wrote on the desktop screen for which it was intended. We are quickly becoming a mobile society. Even my wife has given up using a desktop computer. She does everything on her smartphone or tablet. I can’t remember the last time she even touched a keyboard. For communicators, this means we have to craft our messages for mobile consumption. Back in the late 1990s, I presented more than 50 full-day workshops on “Writing for the Wired World.” It was a hot topic and I was one of the first communicators to deliver a workshop specifically targeting PR and communication professionals. (Some of you probably attended one of those workshops.) While I don’t have any plans to hit the road for 50 day-long workshops on writing for mobile, I am presenting a one-time webinar covering what you need to know to start writing effectively for smartphone screens. In the webinar, I will share a summary of some of the most important research about how people read their phones and offer vital recommendations for how to write in order to accommodate those behaviors. Register today for the “Writing for Mobile” webinar at noon EST on Wednesday, December 14. Your registration covers you and everyone in your department, and you’ll also get access to the video replay of the webinar to watch as often as you like. I’ll also distribute a one-page cheat sheet on writing for mobile to all registrants. [...]



FIR Podcast #62: A Real Episode About Fake News

2016-11-21T16:10:00+00:00

Cross-posted from the FIR Podcast Network First-time panelist Liz Scherer joined Howard Greenstein and David Spark for a deep dive into fake news. “Post-truth” was the Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year. (One of the finalists was “alt-right.”) Fake news is more viral than real news. Fake news is coming for companies; in fact, PepsiCo and its CEO, Indra Nooyi, are experiencing it right now. Does the rise of fake news and the balkanization of news mean the end of mass persuasion for PR? What is Facebook’s role and responsibility in addressing fake news that spreads on its site? Mark Zuckerburg says he wants to banish fake news from Facebook, but it’s hard Did a fear of conservative backlash stymie Facebook’s efforts to curtain fake news during the election? A group of renegade Facebook employees has met in secret to come up with solutions to present to management. Dan York reports on the recent meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force, Facebook Live’s apparent roll-out of its two-person streaming capability to non-verified users, and Twitter’s adoption of QR codes. In the wake of the election, what’s the future of data and polling? Two “State of Social Media Reports” have been released: one from Pew Research, the other from Buffer. Connect with our panelists on Twitter at @howardgr, @lizscherer, and @dspark. Links to the source material for this episode are on Contentle. Special thanks to Jay Moonah for the opening and closing music. About today’s panel: Howard Greenstein is a marketing technology strategist, working with companies to form strategies for online communities, social networking, blogs, and other media. He helped found the Social Media Club, which he served as CEO and executive director. Currently, Howard is chief operating officer at DomainSkate, which helps companies protect themselves from brand fraud and cybercrimes. And he is an adjunct lecturer at Columbia University. Liz Scherer is a digital communications strategist specializing in health & wellness, nonprofits, regulated industry and agriculture. A pioneer in the social web healthcare movement, Liz has been involved in moving the envelope in terms of health and gender equity and is a former social media advisory board member for Health Justice CT. She is especially interested in how novel & emerging players are ultimately impacting agility marketing and in the disruption of content/communication-driven customer experiences. In addition to her extensive experience as a strategist, Liz has worked as a journalist, medical writer, copywriter and blogger and maintains active memberships in the National Association of Science Writers, the Association of Health Care Journalists and Journalism and Women’s Symposium. Currently, she is a curator of Emerging Infectious Diseases for univadis.com’s Clinical Essentials, and recently took a role to direct strategic communications for a mHealth publisher. Liz sits on the Advisory Board for the Center for Health, Media & Policy, Hunter College, NYC. In her spare time, she mentors health start-ups at GA/1776 DC and Village Capital, and is active in the D.C. Tech Community. David Spark is a veteran tech journalist and founder the brand journalism firm Spark Media Solutions. Spark has worked with brands such as IBM, Microsoft, HP, and Indycar Racing. He’s reported on the tech scene for more than 18 years in more than 40 media outlets, and is the author of “THREE FEET FROM SEVEN FIGURES: One-on-One Engagement Techniques to Qualify More Leads at Trade Shows” available at ThreeFeetBook.com.   [...]



Friday Wrap #193: Fake news hits business, Facebook’s muddled metrics, a new kind of crisis

2016-11-18T16:34:00+00:00

I extract items for the Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing News PepsiCo has become the face of a cautionary tale—Speaking at a conference, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi noted that her employees were upset about the election of Donald Trump. “The question they are asking,” she said, “especially those who are not white, ‘Are we safe?’ Women are asking, ‘Are we safe?’ LGBT people are asking, ‘Are we safe?’” The response from Trump supporters was swift, many condemning her on social media (mainly Twitter) and calling for a boycott of Pepsi products. She was also accused of statements she never made. Worse, a fake news story started spreading, claiming her words have caused a 5-point drop in PepsiCo’s stock price (which isn’t true). The takeaway: Any and all companies are now subject to attack from nationalists emboldened by Donald Trump’s victory. I wrote in detail about this on my blog. Read more Oops. Facebook finds more inaccurate metrics—Facebook has admitted finding a batch of miscalculated metrics that marketers and others rely on to determine how users are engaging with their content. The “bugs” (as Facebook calls them) resulted in under or overcounts of four measurements. Among these are weekly and monthly reach, the number of full video views, and time spent with a publisher’s Instant Articles. Facebook fessed up two months ago to two years worth of overestimating the time users spend watching video ads. To address what is clearly a problem, Facebook plans to seek third-party validation of its data. “We’re doubling down on our efforts at third-party verification,” a spokesperson said. The takeaway: Facebook provides 220 some-odd metrics categories that marketers and advertisers rely on when planning their campaigns. Third-party validation is overdue, but I’m glad to see it coming. Read more “Post-truth” is Oxford Dictionaries’ word of the year—Are you surprised? The takeaway: Fake news is part of the whole post-truth concept. It may have been confined to politics up to now, but brace yourself: Business will have to deal with post-truth issues soon (and some already are). REad more Marketers rethinking how to study consumers in wake of election surprise—Marketers supposedly know what turns people’s crank. Imagine, then, their surprise at an election result they thought—based on the data—was a forgone conclusion. Now they’re asking themselves “some serious questions about how they study consumers, use data and quantify the value of facts—questions about the fundamental nature of their business.” One agency CEO said data and analytics have to be balanced with “social listening” and behavioral data (e.g., what people are searching for). Advertisers are also bracing themselves for “a new period of second-guessing any customer data.” The takeaway: It will be an uncertain environment in PR and marketing for a while, especially if you have relied on data to make decisions. Still, the powers that influenced the election results are fairly clear and smart communicators should be able to figure out where to look to test the results of their data analysis. Read more Twitter cracks down on hate accounts—Twitter is usually reluctant to take action against accounts that spew hate, citing free speech concerns. But several prominent white supremacists found Twitter has suspended their accounts along with those of publications associated with them. Twitter says they violated rules against violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple-account abuse. The move comes after Twitter in[...]



PR needs to be ready for fake news targeting companies

2016-11-17T01:25:00+00:00

Allergan’s Botox will soon be available for dog and cat cosmetic treatments! GE discourages Muslim children from pursuing STEM education! Engineer due to testify in case against Bechtel found shot to death! Walmart sells Chinese-made toy that kills 100s of children! CVS importing fake drugs from Syria! None of these stories, of course, are true, nor have they appeared anywhere. I made them up. But that doesn’t mean these stories and others like them—stories that could influence perceptions of your company and affect its sales—couldn’t appear on some obscure site you’ve never heard of and spread like wildfire through social media. Welcome to the era of fake news The coverage of fake news has exploded since Donald Trump’s victory in the recent U.S. presidential election. Craig Silverman reports on BuzzFeed that fake election news produced more engagement on Facebook than the top stories from the biggest mainstream news sites during the last three months of the campaigns. Fake news stories delivered 8.7 million shares, reactions, and comments, compared to 7.3 million for mainstream news, according to the BuzzFeed analysis. So prevalent is fake news that Oxford Dictionaries has proclaimed post-truth the word of the year. The term refers to “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than emotional appeals.” That definition encompasses more than just fake news, but there’s no question that fake news contributed greatly to the elevation of the post-truth concept. Consider an August report that Hillary Clinton’s super PAC planned to spend $1 million to correct misinformation on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, and Instagram—more than three times spent to turn out Latino voters. Election-related fake news was predominantly created to boost Trump’s candidacy, inspiring supporters to spread the stories among like-minded people on the key social media sites. Among the stories that gained traction, on display in a Huffington Post piece, included… Denzel Washington Backs Trump In The Most Epic Way Possible Pope Francis Just Backed Trump, Released Incredible Statement Why FBI Agent Suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead in Apparent Murder-Suicide George Soros: ‘I’m going to Bring down the U.S. by Funding Black Hate Groups’ Germany Folds To Shariah Law, Approves Child Marriages Doctor Who Treated Hillary’s Blood Clots Found Dead Some of these posts linked to publications that don’t actually exist (with sites created just to host that one fake story). Others linked to articles (on Snopes.com, for example) that actually disprove the assertion the post made. Still others were published on extremist websites whose writers were not beholden to principles of credible journalism. Some were on websites published by teens, many of whom lived in the Macedonian town of Veles, who figured out that creating this red meat for Trump supporters earned them money via Google’s AdSense product. Now that the election is over, it’s not unreasonable to expect the torrent of fake news to subside. Don’t bet on it, though. The same factions that spread it on behalf of a presidential candidate are likely to keep up the pace in support of their political agenda (and to build consensus against their rivals). Still, with the passions of the election receding, some creators of fake news are likely to turn their attention to businesses they love or hate. Meanwhile, non-political operatives will undoubtedly learn the lesson of the 2016 election and apply similar tactics against businesses. The list of potential motives is endless: anti-corporate activism, unsavory union tactics, competitive harassment, dissatisfied shareholders, unethical stoc[...]