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What is fake news:










Lots of things you read online, especially in your social media feeds may appear to be true, often is not. Fake news is news, stories or hoaxes created to deliberately misinform or deceive readers. Usually, these stories are created to either influence people’s views, push a political agenda or cause confusion and can often be a profitable business for online publishers. Fake news stories can deceive people by looking like trusted websites or using similar names and web addresses to reputable news organisations.

According to Martina Chapman (Media Literacy Expert), there are three elements to fake news; ‘Mistrust, misinformation and manipulation’.


The Rise of Fake News:

Fake news is not new however it has become a hot topic in 2017. Traditionally we got our news from trusted sources, journalists and media outlets that are required to follow strict codes of practice. However, the internet has enabled a whole new way to publish, share and consume information and news with very little regulation or editorial standards.

Many people now get news from social media sites and networks and often it can be difficult to tell whether stories are credible or not. Information overload and a general lack of understanding about how the internet works by people have also contributed to an increase in fake news or hoax stories. Social media sites can play a big part in increasing the reach of these type of stories.

The economics of social media favour gossip, novelty, speed and “shareability”’ Simeon Yates


Types of Fake News:

There are differing opinions when it comes to identifying types of fake news. However, when it comes to evaluating content online there are various types of fake or misleading news we need to be aware of. These include:


1. Clickbait

These are stories that are deliberately fabricated to gain more website visitors and increase advertising revenue for websites. Clickbait stories use sensationalist headlines to grab attention and drive click-throughs to the publisher website, normally at the expense of truth or accuracy.


2. Propaganda

Stories that are created to deliberately mislead audiences, promote a biased point of view or particular political cause or agenda.


3. Satire/Parody

Lots of websites and social media accounts publish fake news stories for entertainment and parody. For example; The Onion, Waterford Whispers, The Daily Mash, etc.


4. Sloppy Journalism

Sometimes reporters or journalists may publish a story with unreliable information or without checking all of the facts which can mislead audiences. For example, during the U.S. elections, fashion retailer Urban Outfitters published an Election Day Guide, the guide contained incorrect information telling voters that they needed a ‘voter registration card’. This is not required by any state in the U.S. for voting.


5. Misleading Headings

Stories that are not completely false can be distorted using misleading or sensationalist headlines. These types of news can spread quickly on social media sites where only headlines and small snippets of the full article are displayed on audience newsfeeds.


6. Biased/Slanted News

Many people are drawn to news or stories that confirm their own beliefs or biases and fake news can prey on these biases. Social media news feeds tend to display news and articles that they think we will like based on our personalised searches.


The Fake News Business Model:

The internet and social media have made it very easy for anyone to publish content on a website, blog or social media profile and potentially reach large audiences. With so many people now getting news from social media sites, many content creators/publishers have used this to their advantage.

Fake news can be a profitable business, generating large sums of advertising revenue for publishers who create and publish stories that go viral. The more clicks a story gets, the more money online publishers make through advertising revenue and for many publishers, social media is an ideal platform to share content and drive web traffic. 


Fake News, Social Media, and the Filter Bubble:

In a recent article on media literacy, Hugh Linehan noted; “Media is no longer passively consumed – it’s created, shared, liked, commented on, attacked and defended in all sorts of different ways by hundreds of millions of people. And the algorithms used by the most powerful tech companies – Google and Facebook in particular – are brilliantly designed to personalise and tailor these services to each user’s profile.”

When we go online or login to a social network we are generally presented with news, articles and content based on our own searches online. This type of content tends to reflect our own likes, views and beliefs and therefore isolating us from differing views and opinions. This is often referred to as a filter bubble.


What can we do about fake news:

Google and Facebook have announced new measures to tackle fake news with the introduction of reporting and flagging tools. Media organisations like the BBC and Channel 4 have also established fact-checking sites While these are welcome developments, digital media literacy and developing skills to critically evaluate information are essential skills for anyone navigating the internet and especially for young people.

The vast amount of information available online and rise in fake news highlights the need for critical thinking. Children need to develop critical thinking from an early age. This is a key skill for young people to develop as they enter into third level education and prepare themselves for the workplace.














Propaganda is really about mass persuasion. In its most neutral sense, propaganda “means to disseminate or promote particular ideas.

Falling down the theoretical rabbit hole for a second, analysis of propaganda has tended to focus not just on the sharing of information, but the intent in disseminating messaging to influence an audience. For example, the legendary father of modern public relations, Edward Bernays, viewed propaganda as a necessary tool for a healthy democracy, shaping opinions for the better. Harold Lasswell’s propaganda theory focused on “Who Says What, In Which Channel, To Whom, With What Effect?” Herman and Chomsky’s model of propaganda dealt more with the Western corporate media environment, and how media set the agenda among the population. Jacques Ellul wrote that “propaganda is the expression of opinions or actions carried out deliberately by individuals or groups with a view to influencing the opinions or actions of other individuals or groups for predetermined ends through psychological manipulations.” According to Jowett and O’Donnell, “propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behaviour to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.” Similarly, Canadian philosopher Randal Marlin defines propaganda as “the organized attempt through communication to affect belief or action or inculcate attitudes in a large audience in ways that circumvent an individual’s adequately informed, rational, reflective judgment.”


There is an important distinction in all of these definitions: propaganda isn’t just about sharing information; it’s about wanting something to happen as a result of spreading a message.

Propaganda can be based on truth or lie; the veracity of it matters only insomuch as credibility affects the desired outcome. Reaching back safely into history for another example, the use of the mistreatment of Belgians at the hands of Germans in the First World War was used in propaganda messaging to gain support for Britain’s involvement in the conflict. The British government (the propagandist) was sucked into an unpopular war and needed its citizens (the audience) to be so supportive that young men would fight in the conflict (the propagandist’s desired intent), thus media coverage and other messaging such as the posters below were used to spread an emotive reason for so doing (the propaganda).


This understanding of propaganda, however, must be adapted in a Digital Age. One major issue arises in the current context: the limited sender-receiver model of most propaganda theory.

Propaganda has traditionally followed a very top-down communication model. The propagandist issues persuasive messaging aimed at achieving a specific outcome among the target audience. As such, it’s been rather one-way — like most mass media. With the internet and social media, however, the audience can, in fact, become co-opted to propagate persuasive messaging too — and this is much more dangerous, as people are more likely to believe those familiar to them or those they view as influential.

The active spreading of content through members of online communities, or Participatory propaganda, goes beyond simply achieving the propagandist’s desired intent, (for example, convincing people to vote for a specific candidate), but engages them such that they become active in furthering that message to other people, multiplying its influence effects manifold.


While neither deliberately manipulative messaging, nor proselytization are new techniques in the time-honoured tradition of winning hearts and minds, the speed and scale at which audiences can be swayed and recruited have significantly increased thanks to the internet, indicating it is time to adapt the concept of propaganda for a Digital Age. Likewise, as people are increasingly plugged in and dependent on information communication technologies (ICTs), the reach of propaganda — particularly if it resonates with a target audience — can become all-encompassing and difficult to escape.


Yellow Journalism:













Yellow journalism refers to reporting that is sensationalistic and may not be entirely factual. The derogatory term was first used to describe the reporting in Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World and William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal, two rival newspapers that we're competing for readers in the 1890s. The World featured a comic strip with a character that wore yellow and was named “the yellow kid.” Hearst lured the artist of the strip to work for the Journal, prompting Pulitzer to hire another cartoonist to launch a similar “yellow kid” comic. Hence, the ultra-competitive papers were the “yellow-kid papers.” Both papers were accused of dramatizing the news in order to increase circulation. They also were charged with prompting the start of the Spanish American War, when Hearst’s papers printed stories that blamed Spain for the sinking of the battleship Maine.


Disinformation vs Misinformation:




              Similar, Yes.

        But Not the Same.




Both disinformation and misinformation contribute to fake news, and both pose a risk to brands and their audiences. However, the major difference between the two lies in intent. Disinformation carries with it the deliberate intent to spread information known to be incorrect. In contrast, the sender of misinformation may not know the information is inaccurate. Every brand runs the risk of being a victim of a one-off false Facebook posting making it into the mainstream or, on the more extreme end of the scale, a highly organized disinformation campaign targeted against a specific brand.

Disinformation: (noun) False information deliberately and often covertly spread in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth

Misinformation: (noun) Incorrect or misleading information inadvertently sent in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth


Example of Disinformation:











One example of disinformation surrounds Nike’s controversial choice to feature NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a fall 2018 ad campaign. The ad sparked a strong and immediate response from supporters and detractors on social media, as the NFL quarterback had become a figure of controversy by repeatedly kneeling during the performance of the national anthem before games as a way to raise awareness about police brutality, social injustice and systemic racism.

While this PR issue ensued, ideologically driven trolls unleashed a hoax against Nike on the web forums 4chan and 8chan. Users posted fake coupons offering 75% off for the company’s products for “people of colour.”

In this case, hoaxers built a campaign on a perceived Achilles heel: a pre-existing public relations scandal. What makes it disinformation is the coupon, which was generated by the hoaxers– not Nike– and deliberately sent across social media platforms. The combined effect of both initiatives juxtaposes race, the brand name, and controversy, as a means to intentionally undermine the brand.


Example of Misinformation:

Pop-rocks fell victim to an episode of misinformation when a rumour was spread saying the combination of the popular 1970’s candy with soda would cause a stomach to explode. Urban legend, a common form of misinformation, even claimed Life Cereal commercial character “Mikey” was killed by the combination. A full 30 years before the advent of the internet and social media, this commercial myth created a significant problem for manufacturer, General Mills, who was forced to send letters to school principals and buy ads in major publications to dispel the story. The Food and Drug Administration even had a hotline devoted to the issue as late as 1979. Consider the aggregated cost of the measures taken to correct the misinformation.

It’s important for companies to understand the difference and the risk that both misinformation and disinformation could pose to their narratives, and ultimately how to take action against disinformation to protect their brand.

To learn more about how social media disinformation is impacting brand reputation and the way consumers think about disinformation, check out our new Brand Disinformation Impact Study.

Dark Psychology 

Dark Psychology is the art and science of manipulation and mind control. While Psychology is the study of human behaviour and is central to our thoughts, actions, and interactions, the term Dark Psychology is the phenomenon by which people use tactics of motivation, persuasion, manipulation, and coercion to get what they want.

 “The Dark Triad” that refers to what many criminologists and psychologist pinpoint as an easy predictor of criminal behaviour, as well as problematic, broken relationships. The Dark Triad includes the traits of …


Dark Psychology Triad:

Narcissism – Egotism, grandiosity, and lack of empathy.

Machiavellianism – Uses manipulation to deceive and exploit people and has no sense of morality.

Psychopathy – Often charming and friendly yet is characterized by impulsivity, selfishness, lack of empathy, and remorselessness.

None of us wants to be a victim of manipulation, but it happens quite often. We may not be subject to someone specifically in the Dark Triad, but normal, everyday people like you and I face dark psychology tactics on a daily basis.

These tactics are often found in commercials, internet ads, sales techniques, and even our manager’s behaviours. If you have kids (especially teenagers) you will most definitely experience these tactics as your children experiment with behaviours to get what they want and seek autonomy. In fact, covert manipulation and dark persuasion are often used by people you trust and love.

Here are some of the tactics used most often by normal, everyday people.

Love Flooding – Compliments, affection or buttering someone up to make a request

Lying – Exaggeration, untruths, partial truths, untrue stories

Love Denial – Withhold attention and affection

Withdrawal – Avoiding the person or silent treatment

Choice restriction – Giving certain choice options that distract from the choice you don’t want someone to make

Reverse Psychology – Tell a person one thing or to do something with an intention to motivate them to do the opposite which is really what you desire. 

Semantic Manipulation – Using words that are assumed to have a common or mutual definition, yet the manipulator later tells you he or she has a different definition and understanding of the conversation. 


Words are powerful and import:

The purpose of this article is NOT to tell you how to avoid being manipulated and exploited. Rather, it’s to remind us all of how easy it is to fall into using these tactics in order to get what we want. I want to challenge you to assess your tactics in all areas of life, including your work, leadership, romantic relationships, parenting, and friendships.

While some people who use theses dark tactics know exactly what they are doing and they are intentional about manipulating you to getting what they want, others use dark and unethical tactics without being fully aware of it. Many of these people learned the tactics during childhood from their parents. Others learned the tactics in their teenage years or adulthood by happenstance. They used a manipulation tactic unintentionally and it worked. They got what they wanted. Therefore, they continue to use tactics that help them get their way.

In some cases, people are trained to use these tactics. Training programs that teach dark, unethical psychological and persuasion tactics are typically sales or marketing programs. Many of these programs use dark tactics to create a brand or sell a product with the sole purpose of serving themselves or their company, not the customer. Many of these training programs convince people that using such tactics are okay and is for the benefit of the buyer. Because, of course, their lives will be much better when they purchase the product or service.


Who uses Dark Psychology and

Manipulation Tactics: 











Here’s a list of people who seem to use these tactics the most.

Narcissists – People who are truly narcissistic (meeting clinical diagnosis) have an inflated sense of self-worth. They need others to validate their belief of being superior. They have dreams of being worshipped and adored. They use dark psychology tactics, manipulation, and unethical persuasion to maintain.

Sociopaths – People who are truly sociopathic (meeting clinical diagnosis), are often charming, intelligent, yet impulsive. Due to a lack of emotionality and the ability to feel remorse they use dark tactics to build a superficial relationship and then take advantage of people.

Attorneys – Some attorneys focus so intently on winning their case that they resort to using dark persuasion tactics to get the outcome they want.

Politicians – Some politicians use dark psychological tactics and dark persuasion tactics to convince people they are right and to get votes.

Sales People – Many salespeople become so focused on achieving a sale that they use dark tactics to motivate and persuade someone to buy their product.

Leaders – Some leaders use dark tactics to get compliance, greater effort, or higher performance from their subordinates.

Public Speakers – Some speakers use dark tactics to heighten the emotional state of the audience knowing it leads to selling more products at the back of the room.

Selfish People – This can be anyone who has an agenda of self before others. They will use tactics to meet their own needs first, even at someone else’s expense. They don’t mind win-lose outcomes.

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