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Disinformation endangers your company, not just democracy

By Doug Striker bio

Did you hear about the rumor that COVID-19 was spread by mobile devices using the 5G network? It sounds so insane and far-fetched that no one would believe it, right? I mean, how in the world would a virus travel through a cell phone frequency band, into a cell phone or tablet, and then out of the device into a person’s body? But thanks to social media, fake news sites set up by bad actors, and Average Joes (like you and me) who click that “share” button all too readily, the rumor spread like wildfire, gaining so much traction that people were literally lighting cell phone towers on fire around the world.

Why would someone spread such nonsense? And when I say “someone,” I not only mean the whackos who started it in the first place, but also the Average Joes who hit “share.”

But share we do. Over and over and over and over. This new human tendency has not only undermined our elections process, but also the value of our companies, which is why I’m writing this article.

According to a 2019 study conducted by Kroll, a business intelligence and investigations firm, 84 per cent of companies feel threatened by the risk of false rumors being fueled by social media. For example, Metro Bank in the United Kingdom was forced to defend itself on social media last year after its share price plummeted by 11 per cent after false rumors spread on WhatsApp and Twitter that the bank was about to collapse.

Protect your company

The only way to protect your company from such hateful, destructive disinformation campaigns is to educate your employees not to be the Average Joes who hit “share” every time something scandalous hits their in-box or social feeds.

Yes, I get it. Your employees might only be a tiny percentage of the people who share the fake news that results in the scaled disasters we see on the global stage. But sometimes disinformation campaigns target the internal workings of a company, as well. Cybercriminals sometimes steal the email addresses of corporate CEOs then create fake emails to employees, which are then spread throughout an organization via shares before anyone even checks their validity.

These are not simply annoying-yet-benign tactics; they cause real damage to morale, productivity and even the company’s bottom line quickly.

So, in order to protect your company, you have to teach your employees how to recognize disinformation.

How can you keep your employees from sharing false information?

What is disinformation? KnowBe4, a security awareness company, defines it this way: “Disinformation is false information intentionally created to deceive and mislead.”

How is disinformation created and shared on a mass scale? KnowBe4 cites four main sources:

  1. Trolls: Trolls are individuals who deliberately say false things online to cause negative reactions, create controversy, and ruin reputations.
  2. Bots: Short for computer “robots,” bots are software programs that can perform automated tasks and can mimic typical online human actions, such as making, liking and sharing social media posts.
  3. Deep fakes: These are audio, videos or photos that have been tampered with to look and sound like something they are not.
  4. Targeting: This tactic takes all of the information available about you (ie. from Facebook data) and makes predictions about disinformation you might be receptive to, then feeds you that precise information.

In order to stop the spread of false information, you need to teach your employees to be fact-checkers. How do you do this? KnowBe4 lists six steps to create an army of fact checkers in your law firm:

  1. Always be skeptical
  2. Check the website address
  3. Read past the headline
  4. Validate the source
  5. Check the dates
  6. Before you share anything with anyone, fact-check it through one of these sources:, Snopes, Hoaxy, and Botometer.

The world is getting crazier but let’s not contribute to the insanity unknowingly. Be careful with the “Share” and “Forward” buttons.











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