The internet has come a long way in the last 50 years. From online shopping, to social media, and more. It has provided us with the ability to have access to products, services, and information in a matter of seconds.
A simple Google search can tell you all about where to find the best sandwich in the lower east side, or who won the Battle of Bunker Hill, or connect you with the day’s news from around the world.
However the harsh reality is, something is wrong on the internet.
What is wrong on the internet is that the integrity of information is at risk. We are at a crossroads where the internet has empowered the universal accessibility of information, and the ability for everyone to be a creator. Amidst this innovation are those that abuse it and try to manipulate narratives and cause users to question what is real and what is fake. However, the conversation surrounding this problem only extends as far as fake news and internet trolls. Behind slanderous headlines and memes, lies the foundational and fundamental problem of information integrity.
What is information integrity?
Information integrity is exactly what it sounds like: the trustworthiness and dependability of information. Information integrity relies on the accuracy, consistency, and reliability of the information content, processes and systems to maintain a healthy information ecosystem.
Disinformation and information warfare pose an immense threat to information integrity. Disinformation is the false or fraudulent material spread deliberately and often covertly in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth. False information is 70% more likely to be shared on social media.
As there are more and more ways to consume information, information integrity is a highly relevant issue. We’ve witnessed information integrity be jeopardized first hand in our democratic processes. Russia was able to undermine the 2016 U.S. presidential election by leveraging our information ecosystem and the channels it thrives on, social media, to influence who citizens cast their vote for. But this influence is shifting to target more than elections, and rapidly attacking all angles of the information ecosystem. 54% of consumers say they have seen disinformation surrounding the brands that they follow.
Why brands and companies should care about information integrity
We live in the information age. Never before have we had this ease of access to massive amounts of information. The internet has largely made that possible. Organizations and businesses play a large role as creators and gatekeepers of information. However with accessibility comes responsibility.
For years social responsibility for brands and organizations has been synonymous with supporting a cause or having a designated charity that a percentage of their proceeds go to. However, what it means to be socially responsible is evolving to adhere to what today’s consumers value.
Today’s customer is an emotional buyer and decision maker. They take brand reputation and trust into account before deciding to who to shop or do business with. With social media and a 24-7 news cycle, brands at the center of false or amplified controversies can be major headlines and socialized publicly in a matter of hours. Narratives, both authentic and manufactured, have the ability to be virally spread and further influence how someone feels about a brand. According to the 2019 Brand Disinformation Impact Study, 66% of consumers say that brands should be held responsible for defending consumers against disinformation.
As we’ve seen in the past, disinformation can play a dangerous role in influencing audiences. Social movements, like the anti-vaccine movement, brand boycotts, and false trending topics have all gained momentum and large followings as a result of narrative hijacking. It’s largely up to brands to ensure that they are taking the right measures to ensure that the information and narratives surrounding their brands are honest and accurate.
In the highly digital and connected age that we live in, information integrity is the next natural progression of corporate and brand social responsibility.
The fight to protect information integrity
Disinformation threatens our information ecosystem in more ways than just putting false narratives and fake content on someone’s timeline. It can alter reputation, disrupt public discourse, and erode the trust that we have with organizations, individuals, institutions, and our government.
New Knowledge is taking a stand. We are working with responsible brands and organizations and providing them with the first information integrity solution, to protect their brands and consumers from damaging disinformation.
The truth is that something is wrong on the internet, but there’s hope. The time to fight to protect information integrity is now. Brands, organizations, technology solutions, and consumers should be held accountable in fighting this problem. How will you protect the integrity of our information ecosystem?