Fake news - scope, public trust and options for policy

Fake news distribution is becoming a central focus for publishers, digital platforms, advertisers and consumers. Today's Westminster Media Forum has been organised to decide what next for industry and government.

I'm speaking on behalf of the CIPR at today's Westminster Media Forum which has been organised to debate the issue of fake news.

Throughout the morning, sessions will analyse what fake news is, the motivations behind it, declining trust in the media, the responsibilities of content hosts and how advertisers can gain greater control over where their brand messages appear. 

My participation revolves around a panel looking at ad misplacement and the implications for brand management. You can see my deck here.


While ad misplacement is as old as time and there is limited sensitivity to display ads appearing next to distressing stories in the printed press, or TV adverts appearing in between programmes showing violence, drugs and racial hatred, the online response is very different.

The brand safety discussion was recently reignited when Google and YouTube ads were placed next to contentious religious and political content. Large scale advertisers pulled out until new checks were put into place and some haven't yet reinvested.

With 400 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every hour, content control is a major issue and an ever greater challenge following the spread of the fake news phenomena due to modern technology.

Any solution needs to focus on how this volume of content can be checked before publication, rather than weighted towards how advertisers can exert placement control over paid promotion. 

In addition to revisiting their brand values and living these (see the @stopfundinghate campaign as an example), organisations must embed fake news within their crisis planning.

Brands must also work with government, Google, Facebook and others to find solutions and educate the public about how to identify fake news, as well as how the advertising process works, if they are to mitigate reputational risk.