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PRSA code of ethics

inaccuracy in social media

The Importance of Accuracy Online

By Blog

Misinformation, and disinformation, on the internet, specifically with social media, has been a growing topic of concern since the last national election. Since that time, some social media platforms have been working to identify or remove posts and memes that are inaccurate.

Brands Fight Against Inaccuracy

Sometimes misinformation can take a toll on brands who take a public stand on issues or get caught in the middle of a hoax. Think to brands such as Pepsi who frequently has to debunk the online rumor that they removed the words, “Under God” from a can design featuring the Statue of Liberty and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Recently, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand has come under fire for their support of the Black Lives Matter movement and are being targeted with false memes about their support, including a photoshopped image of the founders holding a “We hate cops” sign. In cases such as this, brands have to address the controversary because the spread of misinformation and disinformation can be detrimental to brand trust.

A study by HubSpot revealed that 78% of consumers say that disinformation does damage brand reputation. Along with the loss of trust, brands will lose profits. Survey respondents indicated they would shop or do business with another brand (23 percent), nine percent would pull money from the company’s stock, another 17 percent would stop doing business with them or actively boycott the brand. Only none percent would assume the damaging event is fake and 18 percent would defend the brand they trust.

Social Platforms and Misinformation

Facebook has been a particularly ripe vessel for “fake news”. In fact, according to a study by Human Nature Behaviour, Facebook spreads the most fake news than any other platform. Researchers noted that people spend an average of 64 seconds reading fake news while only 42 seconds on legitimate news stories. More than 1.73 billion people use Facebook each day, according to their first-quarter report in 2020, making it the most used social platform in the world.

In recent years, Facebook has taken steps to reduce the ability of targeted ads to be used for political campaigns. While Facebook won’t remove inaccurate posts, it will create a warning if a post contains false information. Most recently this step was used to help curb the spread of inaccurate information about coronavirus. Facebook is still cashing in on political ads and has been resistant to fact-check or remove inaccurate ads placed by politicians. This week, however, Facebook announced that while it won’t remove content from politicians that violate platform rules, it will add a label explaining why it has left the content up. In addition, Facebook is widening the category for hateful content in ads. This is in response to a massive boycott of Facebook ads from major advertisers including Verizon and Unilever.

In the past year, Twitter has taken to placing a warning on tweets that contain inaccurate information and hiding tweets that glorify violence, hate, or harassment or violate their policy against abusive behavior. In some cases, these tweets are removed. Unlike Facebook, Twitter shocked the world by recently banning political ads.

Baseline Creative’s Commitment to Accuracy

Baseline Creative works with dozens of clients each year with social media management and search engine marketing. We create content, share content and create ads for Google as well as social media platforms—and we take this seriously. Accuracy in information is crucial. Our clients’ reputations, as well as our own, depend on the quality of information we source and produce.

We employ public relations professionals who abide by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Code of Ethics which includes the value of honesty. This value states, “We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.” As PR professionals, we are as bound to this code as physicians are to the Hippocratic oath.

Disseminating or being a target of misinformation or disinformation are sure-fire ways to lose brand trust, customers, and profits. If you need help with a public relations ordeal or crisis communication plan, Baseline Creative can help get your brand back on track. Contact us for more information.