Weapons of Mass Deception | Social Media and its role in the war on the global social landscape
It’s an odd world we live in—one where people view the world through a mobile device, a lens that has created a new landscape where official news, news stations, newspapers, and the like, have been replaced by instantaneous information free from vetting, researching, and journalistic standards that were once the foundation of our decision-making processes.
Now, our global society lives by the minute, with opinions based on character counts, images without references, and lives so connected that we seem to have discarded common sense and in-depth research when reading the latest Tweets of the minute. This era has brought us fake news, media manipulation, and trial by social media that has led to the demise of the largest corporations and other business organizations.
How do we combat this new era of opinion over fact? Like any war, we need to first look at the enemy—in this case, the digital landscape and how information is disseminated. The most recent statistics show that we currently connect globally via a virtual cornucopia of social platforms—all of which bleed and feed into the ecosystem of opinion and manipulation—both foreign and domestic. For instance, here are a few numbers to put things into perspective as to how connected we all really are: currently Twitter has 328 million monthly users, LinkedIn has 500 million users, Instagram has 700 million monthly users, and Facebook has 2 billion monthly users.
So where do we set our sights when it seems that for every organization there is a dystopian world of social media to combat and control? As our environment is connected globally through social platforms, we have the greatest weapon to combat fake news and non-factual opinions—data.
Through social media monitoring, organizations can now peer into the heart of the social media universe and see firsthand what is being discussed, by whom, and how it could impact either positively or negatively on the organization as a whole. With access to data that resides within the social media ecosphere, organizations now have the ability to enact their own controls through better communications and data points, virtually shutting down fake news by becoming the keeper of real records: the truth and the data to support that truth.
With big data and its resulting business intelligence (BI), the ability to monitor, report, analyze, and manage social media is now a reality. For all types of companies, social intelligence can deliver a plethora of business intelligence, including the real-time monitoring of conversations regarding assets, operations, and the company.
By implementing a social intelligence practice, companies can understand who stakeholders are, understand the network of influencers and the role each plays regarding communication around the organization, obtain alerts to crises as early as possible, and more. These factors can then be used to provide defensive measures against falsehoods, miscommunications, and even activists—all of which lead to better company perception, alignment between shareholders and key stakeholders, and ongoing strategic objectives. After all, being the credible source of facts that are supported by data is a critical step in enabling a company to define the story, rather than being defined by it.
So, to answer the question, is Twitter (and all social media) a weapon of mass deception? If not monitored, measured, and managed, it absolutely is a weapon. But when managed properly, the devastating side of social media can be transformed into the greatest and most powerful ally—one used for good, and not evil.