You hear a great deal about “fake news” in today’s media landscape. In most cases, the information is not completely fake, but rather a bit of real news sprinkled with a deliberate intent to influence the behavior of the people.
Whether for negative or positive effects, influencing readers in one direction or another is the driving force behind fake news. There are “fake news” stories designed to slander political figures or business competitors, as well as “fake news” stories created to inspire positive social changes, encourage gifts to specific causes, or guide consumers to products. The common thread is there remains some small measure of truth in all of the stories, which is often hard to find amid the often-outrageous claims surrounding it.
Given the news climate discussed above, it would seem that gone are the days of reporting facts in their entirety with truthfulness and transparency. Fortunately, this isn’t the case in every instance, as a number of trusted news agencies and marketers continue to deliver accurate information in a world apparently full of “fake news.” The team at Digital PR powered by Exults invites you to explore how “fake news” influences audience perspectives.
Reduced Engagement, Decreased Knowledge
A recent study by the Pew Research Center concluded that individuals who rely solely on social media outlets for news stores are more likely to encounter “fake news” and unproven claims regarding science and politics, such as the upcoming Presidential election. As a result, these individuals are less likely to be exposed to genuine facts, and therefore less knowledgeable and engaged on the issues.
The study showed that while 25 percent of those surveyed get their news from news websites or apps, nearly 18 percent relied on social media for news while 16 percent rely on cable television and local television, respectively. Additionally, social media is the most common source of news among young adults. Among all surveyed, those who rely on social media rarely follow major news stories closely and tend to be less knowledgeable on those topics.
Survey respondents were queried on current events, politics, and the ongoing pandemic. The results revealed a lack of attention to news that appeared to coincide with lower levels of knowledge regarding these major news topics. Those who use social media as their primary news source are also among those with the highest exposure to “fake news,” including conspiracy theories and other unproven claims. Interestingly, the researchers also found those who get their news mainly from social media are less concerned about the impact of “fake news” compared to other groups, particularly those who rely on other platforms like cable television.
Ease of Access, Convenience, and The Truth
Quality content can be expensive to produce. Consistent delivery of quality content to the public requires good writing, ease of access, licensed photos, and usually—in the current digital age—a paywall asking for a fee or subscription from potential readers to access said content.
This result can unfortunately lead to the most accurate and crucial information getting stuck behind paywalls, while the “fake news” is on display completely for free to the largest audience. However, this does not mean that one can only get the facts by paying, as there are many “pay” sites that mislead with minimal facts and draw conclusions in not-credible fashion.
This new landscape now requires the general public to glean facts and conclusions for themselves, rather than rely on getting accurate information from “click-bait” headlines and “fake news” elements of published content. The same is true in academia, where most scholarly content must be paid for, while the public can freely partake of virtually any self-proclaimed expert’s “knowledge” with ease.
“Fake News” and the Demand for Corrective Action
The “fake news” landscape has sparked a new trend among individuals and groups, which is to demand corrective action from businesses, organizations, and entities contributing to “fake news” tactics in media and marketing.
In another recent study by North Carolina State University researchers found consumers expected business to responsibly combat “fake news” even in incidences in which the company was the victim. As a business owner, this means the consumer base expects proactivity, addressing the issue, providing accurate information, correcting mistakes, and making needed information and corrections readily available.
The study also broached the topic of media literacy, with nearly all participants in agreement that media users needed education to evaluate media critically. While the study did not address causality, it certainly addressed the correlation between public perception and consumer expectation of business entities.
Exults Digital PR Can Help!
The time is now to practice truth in advertising and take positive action against “fake news.” Digital PR powered by Exults is ready to help!