False Stories vs. Real News

It is really important to tell the truth and get the facts straight. There are so many false news stories out about a business, so how can we tell what is false and what is real?

Whether it’s faking a letter from a chief executive to alter a corporate strategy, or staging a car crash to imply a faulty vehicle, false stories that generate headlines can and have hurt a company’s bottom line, pushing the stock price down and setting off a nightmare that is, in many cases, irreversible. How can we fix this?

Misinformation, or “alternative facts” consist of false stories deliberately designed to mislead and misinform the public. Social media is the most common method for spreading false stories – as such, it is important to know how to tell the difference between false and legitimate news.

In a 2020 report it was found that Americans view misinformation (61 percent) and disinformation (58 percent) to be major problems in society, more so than illegal drug use or abuse (55 percent), crime (55 percent), gun violence (54 percent) and political partisanship (53 percent).

It is unfair to place all blame on social networks. Bias creeps into even the most respected mainstream news outlets. It’s not just about issues of trust and reliability, it’s about legitimacy. We often develop opinions based on where we stand in the world, our background and life experiences. We must try as a society to listen to alternative views and be open-minded when forming opinions.

We have found that a factual story had no effect on participants’ opinions about the brand advertising next to it. This shows that in real news contexts, there’s no intrinsic connection between the content of an article and the perceived credibility of a brand that appears adjacent to it.  However, the fake story had a decidedly negative effect on the readers’ attitudes — notwithstanding whether it appeared to be on a “trustworthy” or “untrustworthy” site. People’s perceptions of a news article’s low credibility transferred to their opinions about the brand, and they said they would be less likely to buy the brand’s products, visit a store, or speak positively about it.

It is our duty as responsible citizens to make informed decisions and stop the spread of false stories. False Stories are also used to discredit reputable news outlets and silence dissent. Unfortunately, we also contribute to this type of censorship among ourselves.

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