What Makes “Fake News”, Fake News- By Mike Pounsford, IABC UK President, 2017-2018


Fake News is in the news, but what makes it fake?

On November 28 IABC UK met with a mix of members and guests to discuss the challenges and issues raised by Fake News.


Facilitated by the superb and provocative Ezri Carlebach people heard from five speakers for five minutes each.


  • Jane Mitchell, a specialist on business ethics, talked about the age-old problem of spin and its counterproductive impact on people within and outside organisations. But deeper than this she looked at the cultures that generate misinformation and the cost of unethical practices citing Volkswagen’s cumulative costs from “Diesel gate” at approximately $30billion


  • I talked about the difficulty of knowing what is true and what is not when our brains can make snap judgements and easily deceive us. Using visual illusions to illustrate how the brain works, and as a metaphor for cognitive bias, highlighted how the same information can lead to widely differing reports depending upon what people want to hear. I finished by talking about strategies to mitigate bias including checking sources and gaining alternative perspectives.


  • Jenni Field, Chair of CIPR Inside pointed out that Fake news is nothing new but that verification is essential now that internal communication can rapidly spread to external audiences. Jenni talked about the ethical responsibility professional communicators have, their role as enablers of effective conversations and their potential to act as the voice of authenticity to strengthen the employer brand.


  • Kevin Read used to be Executive Chairman & Partner of Engage by Bell Pottinger. He majored on the impact of digital communication, the difficulty of separating truth from fiction and how digital soundbites lack filters and context.


  • Finally, Dr. Barbara Gibson from Birkbeck University had the room hooting with laughter as she told stories about her early childhood and exposure to high religion, full of dubious claims. In today’s world, she highlighted the preponderance of “fakery” and the amplification of false news via social media, ending with a truth twister’s tongue twister that had the whole room mucking about with fakery – you get the drift!


The night was as much about networking, connecting, fun and refreshments as it was about the subject of Fake News. But my thoughts on what we discussed include:


  • Fake news is not new – it has been with us since we were first able to communicate with each other
  • It has become so problematic because of the communication tools we now have which spread misinformation at lightning speed and vast scale.
  • We are unable to identify “truth” because we are all subject to cognitive bias, often unconscious. Working with others, diverse inputs, second opinions, checking audience expectations and understanding are more important than ever


Shortly before the evening, Oxford Circus in London witnessed panic caused by false information about supposed gunfire in London Underground, spread rapidly by twitter. Shortly afterwards Donald Trump retweeted anti-Islamic propaganda.


The information people spread, whatever their motivation, may be false. There is nothing fake about the threats and dangers posed by this behaviour.


Mike Pounsford

IABC UK President 2017- 2018

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One thought on “What Makes “Fake News”, Fake News- By Mike Pounsford, IABC UK President, 2017-2018

  • January 10, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    I have noticed you don’t monetize your site, don’t waste your traffic, you
    can earn additional cash every month because you’ve got hi
    quality content. If you want to know how to make extra
    $$$, search for: Mertiso’s tips best adsense alternative


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *