Facebook makes my blood boil. Barely a day goes by without some false “truth” being floated on my social network wall by people, who quite frankly should know better. Tall tales of how our privacy is at risk if we do not copy and paste a faux legal statement to our walls are at best annoying. False information hawking (amongst other things) and many other subjects (best left unspoken at a dinner party) are perhaps more dangerous.
With no editorial filter and naïve social proof (where friends “like” and “share” false stories believing them to be legit), it’s easy to see how stories with no basis in fact can grow legs and become ingrained in the general publics’ consciousness.
If these lies were presented as facts in the traditional media, editors and publishers would feel the full weight of the PR industry (and their legal representatives). However, the social landscape remains the media equivalent of the Wild West.
In the short term, this creates opportunities for the dishonest and those with questionable agendas. In the long run, it will potentially destroy the credibility of a medium which is currently and swiftly dismantling our current (largely regulated) media. Without a solid and trustworthy foundation to build our clients reputation on, the PR industry faces an unprecedented risk.
The question is: Should the PR industry (and their clients) take a roll in cleaning up the social media landscape? This would mean taking positive action against false stories distributed via social networks and lobbying the social networks and government to maintain certain standards.
Featured image courtesy of Jason Howie on Flickr