3. Beware of fake news

As a data journalist using social media to write about emerging trends, it’s absolutely vital for me to be aware of misinformation before it becomes familiar to people, because familiarity results in a trend clogging social media conversation – it’s like going to the airport without a passport; stressful, sweaty and silly.

“A particular piece of information, no matter how fake it is, can become familiar. If it’s familiar it gets into the fluency of thinking. It becomes intuitive and easy to retrieve. Information that’s easily retrievable is given more value” said Dr Delia Dumitrescu, a lecturer in Media, Culture, and Politics at the University of East Anglia, when she spoke with Brandwatch for Fake News Week 2020, “… it’s just very difficult to dismiss it later on.”

This is especially true because the world around us is changing so rapidly. From Covid-19 to the climate crisis and international relations, there’s hundreds, if not thousands of new stories every day. With this overload of information, it’s no surprise that miscommunication and unreliable sources can give rise to fake trends.

If, as a content creator, you’re sharing unreliable information, it won’t be long before your audience loses trust in you.

One way we keep an eye on misinformation is by paying close attention to the authority of the author and publication when we’re alerted to a story that’s blowing up on social media.

This happened when we were tracking the climate crisis online for a report. BuzzSumo alerted us to a climate change story which was receiving abnormal engagement.

As soon as we saw it in our inbox, we recognized that the article, which had been engaged with 4.2 million times, had come from a known conspiracy site called Natural News.

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