Manipulation of Media and How to Sort Through the Facts

With the mass amounts of information now available on the internet, it is getting harder and harder to search out facts versus rumors and opinion. I found was directed to a New York Times article through Glass House’s review of digital media laws for manipulation and points to remember. Glass House gave a few rules for companies and individuals to remember when reading media that is portrayed as facts.

He told companies to review all media sources, expand communication beyond just mainstream media, and to respond quickly to image and financial damage. For individuals, he told them not to believe everything they read, fact check social media sources, and expand your information sources. 

These tips seem obvious as you are reading them, but think about all of the rumors that have been started because someone heard about it on the Internet from an unreliable source. The Internet provides the rumor mill a breeding ground, making juicy gossip spread like wildfire. This affects PR professionals by making our job even harder. It makes it more difficult to fact check when we create press releases and communicate with stakeholders. It can also hurt our clients by starting rumors about the company that are not based on actual fact. 

Only a few weeks ago Apple’s stock fell because a rumor was started that implied Steve Jobs, the company’s CEO, had passed away. The rumor started on CNN’s citizen journalist site, ireport. Because readers trusted CNN, they assumed that ireport was just as reputable. There was no fact checking going on, and it made Apple have to work fast to distribute the truth.

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5 Responses to Manipulation of Media and How to Sort Through the Facts

  1. letsgoblogging says:

    Fact checking is a crucial element of PR. Whether it is drafting a press release or writing a contributed article to be published, knowing the facts is undoubtedly the most important thing. I think when a headline appears on the Internet that may not be 100 percent true, and then a rumor spirals out of control because of it, it can be incredibly damaging to a person or company. But the same goes with traditional gossip that can take place anywhere. If someone overhears a comment a coworker makes, and then decides to run wild with it, a harmful rumor is likely to spread.
    Social media, while it is extremely resourceful, can have the same potential dangers as getting information from an unreliable source in the flesh. If you are committed to your research, you will go the extra effort to make sure what you are researching is true!

  2. ccharvey says:

    While rumors or false facts can harm the “victim” of the rumors, sometimes the source of the rumor also pays the price. Libel lawsuits can ruin a news source’s reputation and financial situation. As PR professionals we will need to remember this when representing our future companies and clients.

  3. kakeane says:

    A PR practitioner needs to keep tabs on all kinds of social networking and information distribution sites, especially those that are controlled by the users. Facebook, MySpace, Wikipedia, and any self-reporting website leaves opportunity for false information to be disseminated. Because of this, PR professionals need to be constantly on top of what is being said about their organization, in a sense, the content analysis.

    When I originally read this post, I did not consider the impact of libel on the publisher or distributor of any false information; however, the social networking sites I listed above would only be considered vendors of the information rather than authors, and therefore are not liable for the content published on their sites, leaving any legal action a moot point.

  4. trentonhorne says:

    It frustrates me sometimes how the increase of social media has fueled the old phrase “You can’t trust the media.” When mainstream media decides to pick up on tips from these social networks without fully checking them, it just discredits traditional media even more. This topic also makes me think of how people in the past have unsuccessfully pushed to regulate the internet similar to how we do the media. I wonder sometimes if regulation will occur major false reporting continues, or will reputable news sources just work harder to verify their sources information.

  5. erikanp2004 says:

    I also think the expanding internet rumor mill can make public relations professional’s job more difficult. Although I think this gives us the opportunity to reform the way we do business. It should make PR professionals more attentive to the internet. It should also encourage companies to now their personnel very well and for PR practitioners to know their clients well. I think we need to know our clients well. I think we need to know our client well because some rumors that starts on the internet turn out to be facts. Then before we can do damage control the main stream media has taken the story and run. An example of this is Sarah Palin’s daughter being pregnant. That rumor started on the internet on blogs.

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