Day three of ICON delved into the world of disinformation. The kickoff keynote speaker, Nina Jankowicz, is a Wilson Center’s disinformation fellow and works at the intersection of democracy and technology and panel. Disinformation is chipping away at trust in democracy. A key point to remember, when you are not paying for the product, you are the product. Social media is weaponizing the divides in our society and politicizing intelligence. The goal of disinformation is to divide the American people and supports messaging on both the left and right.
After her remarks, she led a panel with disinformation thought leaders from the U.S. and the UK. Three take-aways from the panel:
- Fact Checking – We need to actively attack misinformation through independent journalistic-like effort. Information about fact checking and giving people the tools to be able to do this is important and fact-checking companies have partnered with organizations such as AARP to reach out to those over 50 that might not have the information they need.
- Vaccinate Against Disinformation – Prevention is better than correction. People need to be exposed to pre-bunking and tools to practice skills needed to spot disinformation. We can’t combat disinformation by playing whack-a-troll.
- News Media Reporting on Disinformation Stories – Information is covered and reported on that increases education about spam calls asking, for example, account information. We need to cover disinformation campaigns so that consumers can be educated. There is a appetite for disinformation stories.
PR professionals and journalists play a critical role in addressing this global issue of disinformation. In response, the PRSA Advocacy Committee, chaired by Mike Charenson, have been working all year to research, vet, and curate information, resources, and tools to combat disinformation. PRSA is sharing this information with members to help them be ambassadors and leaders of pre-bunking and inoculation. Stay tuned to PRSA for more information.
Jennifer Day is the Great Lakes Regional Coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a long-time member of Detroit PRSA and will be joining the PRSA national board in 2021.