Fake news:
when employees get in on the act

At Vivatech, we saw that tech for good isn’t just about ecology or health: it’s also about ethics, business and information. But with social networks serving as the breeding grounds for fake news, what do you do when your employees get in on the act?

Who creates the fake news that invades networks and your company? Caroline Faillet’s book explains that it comes from multiple sources: propaganda professionals who are paid per click; haters who see it as a game; and people like you and me who need recognition and “unintentionally” share sensational, but false, information.

How can you stem the flow of fake news generated by your employees? According to Faillet, inaction is the main reason behind the spread of fake news – not just the inertia of companies but also of researchers and opinion leaders, who have a duty to make their voices heard. She explains that social networks are the pharmakoi of fake news, meaning they are both the poison and the cure. When businesses allow employees to be good fact checkers, they act as contributors (explaining in their capacity as experts) and diffusers (sharing genuine information). Faillet insists that this is only possible if management gives people freedom. In this context, the railway company SNCF has lifted the ban against its workers using online forums and has also set up a “free speech” program so that officials can respond on networks, free from the supervision or approval of the PR department.

The subject of fake news isn’t new and at Business Digest we’ve already given you the tools for spotting it. At the same time, it would be interesting to look more deeply into the issue of employees acting as vectors of misinformation. In addition to the way fake news is managed, the kinds of cultures and initiatives outlined by Faillet could help develop confidence, transparency and recognition for employees, as well as customers.

Further reading:

1- Décoder l’info, comprendre les fake News by Caroline Faillet (Bréal, October 2018).
2- Fake news ou pas comment savoir? The answer to the question of fake news can be found in Caroline Faillet’s video.