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How Companies Can Stop The Spread Of Dangerous Misinformation

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How Companies Can Stop The Spread Of Dangerous Misinformation

Best-selling author, speaker #ChampagneMoment www.ExactlyWhereYouWanttoBe.com.

Information is power. Yet as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility. For business leaders, the responsibility of managing information is more critical than ever, especially in a world where technology can lead to the rapid spread of harmful, misleading and malicious data and content. Consumers are hypersensitive to any negative sentiments toward the brands they love. After all, many want to buy from companies that align with their personal and ethical values. Unfortunately, misinformation can potentially disrupt daily operations, damage reputations, erode brand equity and even lead to costly legal consequences.

Misinformation can come both internally and externally. A great example of internal misinformation was the failed energy giant Enron, which used misinformation to mislead employees, investors and the government about poor performance and illegal activities. This kept the organization afloat in the short term but ultimately led to the collapse of the company and prosecution of the executives who were involved.

External misinformation often involves a third party sharing false or misleading information. This is often done by a competitor, politician or other individual seeking to discredit or harm an organization.

It’s important to take steps to reduce the risk of creating misinformation internally (whether intentionally or not) and develop the right strategies to quickly squash misinformation that threatens to damage the organization.

Factors That Can Fuel The Spread Of Misinformation

Misinformation has been a part of human history since we acquired the ability to communicate with one another. The digital age has turbocharged its spread. To better understand how to stop and mitigate the risk of misinformation, it’s important to understand how and why misinformation spreads so quickly.

Digital Media And Social Networks

Many websites and social media platforms rely on human interaction to be successful. For this reason, these platforms encourage and provide the ability to like, comment and reshare. This provides the perfect environment for false information to spread. For the sake of simple math, let’s assume you have 200 people who follow your business’s social media profile and they each have 200 followers. If just 10% of your followers repost, the total reach jumps to 4,000 people (assuming all of their followers see the reposts, which isn’t common but simplifies our example). If this rate (10%) of resharing and viewing continues, each round of visibility expands—first to 80,000 people, then 1.6 million, then 32 million…

Selective Information

It is easy for bad actors to edit or remove context from information to create a narrative that is false or misleading. For example, in 2017, United Airlines came under fire when the airline selected passengers to be removed from an overbooked flight to make room for crew members. A video circulated showing a passenger being dragged off the plane. The video was part of the actual event, but in some cases, the clip had been shortened to remove the context leading up to the passenger’s removal by security.

Echo Chambers

Social media algorithms expose users to content that aligns with their existing beliefs and preferences. This creates echo chambers where misinformation can flourish without being challenged by alternate viewpoints. Echo chambers can make people deeply entrenched in their belief systems as they receive constant feedback that their view is correct.

Anonymity And Impersonation

Online anonymity allows individuals to spread misinformation without fear of accountability. This can embolden people to share false information without risk of negative consequences.

Deepfakes

It can be difficult to distinguish between reality and fake information simply by looking at it on the surface. Today, technology can create videos and audio clips that mimic the likeness and voices of real people, like when comedian Jordan Peele created a completely fake but realistic-looking video of former president Barack Obama. This technology has only advanced since then.

Five Actions Companies Can Take To Protect Their Organizations

Controlling and mitigating the risk of misinformation is no simple task. This is especially true for organizations with hundreds or thousands of employees. However, a company that has robust communications policies, crisis management plans and well-trained employees with the right resources is best suited to handle just about any misinformation that is thrown at it.

1. Media Literacy Training

The first line of defense in protecting your organization is to make sure that your team knows how to spot misinformation. Investing in media literacy training programs can equip your team with the critical thinking skills to evaluate the information they see and spot information from noncredible sources.

2. Fact-Checking Protocols

Implement a four-eyes protocol: Your company publishes nothing without a second person checking it and signing off. For example, this could require all social media posts or company statements to be reviewed and fact-checked by another team member or their supervisor.

3. Reporting Policies

If your employees come across misinformation, do they know what to do about it? Companies need policies and processes that give employees the tools and resources to know what is expected of them should they encounter potentially harmful misinformation. It’s critical to foster an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing potential misinformation. You should encourage constructive discussions, even if they challenge the status quo.

4. Your Online Reputation

Companies should assign one or more people to regularly monitor the company’s online reputation and mentions across various media and social sites. By catching issues early, companies can swiftly address any false narratives that could harm the brand. Fortunately, there are plenty of digital tools available today to streamline this process and help make it automated.

5. Crisis Management Plan

Every business will encounter a major crisis at some point. It’s important to ensure your company is prepared to handle misinformation with a robust crisis management plan. This will not only guide employees through the process, but it will reduce the response time, ultimately minimizing damage.

We must protect our companies in an era where information wields immense power and risk. By taking proactive steps and adapting, we can commit to truth and accuracy. In doing so, we pave the way for a brighter, more resilient future in the digital age.


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3 Things You’ll Regret Not Knowing Before Buying Meta Platforms Stock Right Now

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3 Things You'll Regret Not Knowing Before Buying Meta Platforms Stock Right Now

It’s been a wonderful time to be a shareholder in Meta Platforms (META -0.43%). After hitting a low around the start of November 2022, the business has seen its shares skyrocket nearly fivefold (as of Feb. 20). Investor enthusiasm is through the roof.

Despite this monster performance, the FAANG stock, which is near its all-time highs, trades at a forward price-to-earnings ratio of just 23.5 right now. This might prompt you to rush to buy shares.

But before you do, here are three things you must know about this dominant tech giant.

Massive, but growing

Meta Platforms owns and operates some of the most popular social media services on the face of the planet.

Between its various platforms — like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger, and Threads — the business counted a whopping 4 billion monthly active users (MAUs) as of the end of last year. This means that almost half of the world’s 8.1 billion people interact with a Meta digital property once a month. That’s hard to wrap your head around.

While it’s reasonable to assume the company can’t get any larger, it’s worth pointing out that MAUs were up 6% year over year in the fourth quarter. Because the U.S., Canada, and European markets are much more mature, Meta is finding success posting better growth in other geographies, like the Asia-Pacific region.

This massive scale has resulted in powerful network effects. The more users on a particular social media platform, the more valuable it is to users. Anyone can start a new app tomorrow, but it would be almost impossible to expand the way Meta’s services have, which protects its competitive standing.

Digital advertising is key

Providing free services to billions of users means that Meta, unsurprisingly, is a digital advertising powerhouse. Of the $135 billion in revenue it brought in in 2023, 98% came from selling ads. This puts it behind Alphabet in the global rankings when it comes to digital ad revenue.

Because of the valuable data Meta is able to extract from its gigantic user base, it’s no wonder that businesses of all sizes find it extremely effective to target audiences using the company’s platforms. The ongoing integration of artificial intelligence (AI) features will only improve this for marketers.

The downside is that the digital advertising market has shown itself to be somewhat cyclical. When interest rates rise, inflationary pressures persist, consumer spending gets pressured, and everyone is uncertain where the economy is headed, it makes sense that ad spending will be among the first thing that executives cut. Meta reported a 1% decline in revenue in 2022 thanks to these headwinds. However, things picked up in a huge way last year: Sales jumped 16%.

It also helps that digital ad revenue drove a fantastic 54% operating margin for the family of apps segment in Q4. Add this to Meta’s net cash position of $47 billion, and there should be zero concern about the business being able to navigate any unfavorable macro conditions.

Meta’s metaverse ambitions

Love him or hate him, credit goes to Meta’s founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, for building one of the world’s most valuable and dominant enterprises in just two decades. By being a forward-thinking innovator, he’s always trying to position the business for whatever tech shifts that might come.

Zuckerberg thinks that next shift could be the metaverse. As a result, he’s focused heavily on creating new hardware and software products in the hopes of attracting 1 billion users to spend and interact in virtual worlds.

He’s putting his money where his mouth is. Meta’s Reality Labs division posted an operating loss of $16 billion in 2023, and more losses are expected. And it doesn’t make much money, producing $4 billion in revenue combined in the last two years.

But given a proven track record of success, as well as vast financial resources from the company’s thriving social media apps, investors should doubt Zuckerberg at their own risk.

If you’re looking to scoop up shares of Meta, you now know three very important aspects of the business that can lead to a more informed decision.

Randi Zuckerberg, a former director of market development and spokeswoman for Facebook and sister to Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Neil Patel has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet and Meta Platforms. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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X Expands Audio and Video Calls to Non-Paying Users

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New Report Finds That X May Be Inflating its Ad Performance Results

Look, I don’t know why this would be considered revolutionary or an advance, or even a significant step in any direction really. But for some reason, Elon Musk and his team believe that facilitating audio and video calls in X is a really big deal.

And now, it’s expanding its audio and video calling features to all non-Premium subscribers in the app, so you don’t even have to be a paying user to access the new connection options.

X launched audio and video calls with X Premium subscribers on iOS last October, then brought them to paying users on Android last month. And now, it’s expanding access once again.

But, like, you can already make audio and video calls on your phone, on WhatsApp, in Messenger, etc. Like, nobody is hanging out waiting to be able to make calls on X.

But Elon says that he’s getting rid of his phone number, because X will now replace his telecommunications, and given the reflexive head-nodding among his most dedicated disciples in response to his every utterance, no doubt many of them will also follow suit.

But I’m guessing not many other people will actually care.

But, if you do, soon, you’ll be able to kick off an audio or video call with your X connections, and there could be some value within that for brands that are looking to use the platform for customer service.

I suspect most X users won’t even notice, but for those who are conducting a lot of connection activity in the app, it is worth considering as a strategic expansion.



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Reddit files to go public as ‘RDDT’ on NYSE

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Online discussion platform Reddit is looking to ramp up revenue from ads, commerce, and allowing access to its data for training of large language models powering artificial intelligence

Online discussion platform Reddit is looking to ramp up revenue from ads, commerce, and allowing access to its data for training of large language models powering artificial intelligence – Copyright AFP/File SAMUEL ALABI

Glenn CHAPMAN

Reddit on Thursday told US stock regulators that it plans to go public on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “RDDT.”

Reddit did not provide details regarding the number or price of shares nor when the initial public offering would occur.

Co-founder and chief executive Steve Huffman said in a letter included with the filing that money raised by the share offering would be used to make Reddit a stronger, bigger company.

Founded in 2005, the platform is home to more than 100,000 online communities devoted to a sweeping range of topics and was visited by an average of 76 million people daily in December, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

“They come to Reddit to participate in a vibrant community, a constantly evolving place where anyone, anywhere, can connect with like-minded people and dive into any topic,” Huffman said in the letter.

“The conversation ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, the trivial to the existential, the comic to the serious.”

Communities on the platform are referred to as “subreddits,” and one devoted to music star Taylor Swift eclipsed a million members last year, according to the filing.

Reddit had a net loss of $90.8 million in 2023 on revenue of $804 million, according to the filing.

Reddit is known for “Ask Me Anything” sessions during which influential people ranging from tech titans and famous athletes to celebrities and politicians field questions from users.

A Wall Street Bets subreddit fueled a GameStop share runup in 2021 in a frenzy that inspired a US congressional inquiry and a film titled “Dumb Money.”

Huffman credited Reddit communities with “campaigning for net neutrality in 2015, starting the March for Science in 2017, or standing up for retail investors, as r/wallstreetbets did in 2021.”

– AI training –

Plans to bring in money include advertising and licensing data for training large language models (LLMs) that power artificial intelligence, according to the filing.

“Reddit’s vast and unmatched archive of real, timely, and relevant human conversation on literally any topic is an invaluable dataset for a variety of purposes, including search, AI training, and research,” Huffman wrote.

“We expect our data advantage and intellectual property to continue to be a key element in the training of future LLMs.”

Last year moderators of communities at Reddit held a major protest over new fees for developer access to the platform.

Huffman had been unwilling to allow companies that build AI chatbots like ChatGPT to have free access to the site to perfect their large-language models.

AI companies had used a free interface to access the massive amounts of data at Reddit to train artificial intelligence models.

“Reddit needs to be a self-sustaining business, and to do that, we can no longer subsidize commercial entities that require large-scale data use,” Huffman wrote in a Reddit post at the time.

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