Unless you’ve been curled up under a rock for the last 18 months — and who could blame you? — you probably know that America just elected its next president. With the spate of recent reports regarding fake news stories and their influence on the 2016 election, it’s important to take stock of just how dangerous it can be to spread misinformation.
Social Media & the Post-Fact World
Unfortunately, we may have SEO to blame, at least in part, for the deluge of fake news stories currently occupying our Facebook feeds. After all, the more popular a story is, the more likely folks are to see it near the top of their feeds. When users click on the “article” and share it with others, fake news becomes increasingly difficult to separate from fact-based journalism.
In the final 12 weeks of the presidential campaign, according to a Buzzfeed article published earlier last month, popular fake stories outperformed articles from major media outlets by 15%, including those published by the Washington Post, New York Times and NBC News. Even scarier: according to a study released in May by the Pew Research Center, 62% of American adults receive their news from social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.
“Facts, Evidence, Reason, Logic: These Are Good Things”
Earlier this year, President Obama reminded seniors graduating from Rutgers University that “in politics and life, ignorance is not a virtue.” So, too, is true of marketing your legal practice. You wouldn’t list an inaccurate address or phone number for your law firm — after all, you want to attract clients, not repel them — so why would you go one step further and publish false or misleading information? Both in and outside of the courtroom, an appreciation of fact-based thinking is tantamount to a fair and functional society.