Call of duty: Combating disinformation
Misinformation, whether comprising disinformation or the unintended misrepresentation of facts, is a pressing and pervasive issue, posing challenges to modern society. iResearch Services polled a global panel of 1000 consumers and 600 business leaders, with the results demonstrating a clear consensus that misinformation is a problem at a personal level, to businesses, and to society at large.
Although the consumer panel overwhelmingly indicated its belief that misinformation is a problem across the board, they felt that it posed the biggest challenge to businesses, with 94% indicating this (as opposed to 93% who felt that it was a problem to society at large, and 92% who thought that it was a problem on a personal level). The same survey showed a similar level of concern among business leaders, with 94% saying that misinformation is a problem for companies.
Misinformation is well-known in the political sphere, but is also rife within the corporate sector. “Companies can be at the risk of producing or distributing disinformation – or bear the brunt of fake news that can affect business operations and brand reputation,” says Siddharth Srinivasan, Head of Quality & Training, DPO & ISO at iResearch Services.
Who is responsible for combating misinformation?
It is demonstrably clear that misinformation is a modern crisis that requires solutions and actions. But there is a wide range of players within the information network, including (but not limited to) creators or misinformation, shares, re-sharers, and the platforms where dissemination occurs. Who, then, is responsible for combating misinformation? Is it governments, who are responsible for imposing legal boundaries on misinformation, regulating activity and creating policies to create a safer network of information? Is it businesses, who face threats to brand reputation and possibly even financial risk potentially precipitated by misinformation? Is it activist organisations, who should have a clear aim to create awareness and influence behaviour? Or is it individuals, who should take personal responsibility to question and fact-check content, and refrain from helping to share misinformation?
Businesses are not alone in the battle against misinformation
We put the question of accountability to our panel of consumers and business leaders.
Among the consumers we surveyed, the majority held governments most accountable for fighting fake news (34%), followed by individuals (19%), businesses (10%) and activist organisations (7%). 28% said that it is the duty of all these groups.
Meanwhile, the majority of business leaders seemed to take a collaborative stance, with the majority (36%) saying that it should be the duty of all the groups mentioned. 22% thought that it should be the government’s responsibility, and 17% thought that businesses were the key stakeholders in combating misinformation. As with the consumers surveyed, the lowest proportion of business leaders felt that activist organisations should take the lead.
Overall, it appears that most of the business leaders and consumers we surveyed felt that combating misinformation is a coordinated effort. However, it is interesting to note here that a greater proportion of business leaders, compared to consumers, assigned key accountability to companies. This is, perhaps, a sign of corporations wanting to take proactive ownership to minimise the risks that misinformation can wreck on their organisations.
“The battle against misinformation requires a multi-prong approach,” says Yogesh Shah, CEO of iResearch Services. “Companies are not the only cog in the machine, but they play in integral part in the fight against fake news – both for the good of society, and to help protect their own reputations and the bottom line. It is therefore crucial for businesses to participate in these efforts.”
Download our report to find out more about the risks that misinformation poses to businesses and how to mitigate them.Back to Blogs