Corporate conspiracy communication
I did this radio interview today on what companies should communicate when confronted with a conspiracy theory (and in this ‘some people are saying’ fake news era, not all conspiracies even have a theory behind them!).
Alas, this protracted pandemic has created conditions making people susceptible to conspiracy narratives. Trust is at rock bottom. Uncertainty and anxiety are through the roof. Lockdowns and social distancing isolate individuals. Many of those struggling to understand this unprecedented time are reaching for extraordinary explanations.
We acquire beliefs based on what other people tell us socially. In the last 25 years, social networks have shifted from offline to online. Today, whether it’s a worthy social cause or a sensational retail investor phenomenon or indeed a shocking conspiracy theory, mass publics align around propositions online which align to their group identities, with their views then amplified by AI-driven algorithms that reward engagement and monetize extreme emotions.
To combat conspiracy theories, companies can fight fire with fire (attack and ‘de-position’), fire with water (facts and explanation), or both. Prebunk, not just debunk.