The fake information epidemic and how it will hurt local search in 2017
Fake content and information will be a growing problem in 2017. Columnist Wesley Young takes a look at this trending issue and discusses ways that false information is being used and how local businesses and marketers can protect against it.
Fake news and its influence on the election dominated headlines for weeks as fabricated news reports went viral and the election results shocked the nation. But fake news is just one tentacle of a troubling and growing trend of fake media content. The headlines simply brought to light what is a much wider problem: the ease and prevalence with which false online information is used to manipulate behavior.
The manipulation can be of consumer behavior, business behavior or even the behavior of software triggered by false information fed into its system. Scam artists are strongly motivated to take advantage — recent reports cite Russian hackers who stole up to $5 million a day in advertising revenue by posing as fake users in a scheme tagged by the name “Methbot.”
The impact on marketers is particularly hard. As consumers search for information to help make purchase decisions, uncertainty about the veracity of the information they receive impacts the effectiveness of local search marketing. Online advertising already faces challenges gaining consumer trust, and the proliferation of fake content will only hurt it more. Worse, you may be spending money on advertising that no one ever sees, be competing in an unfair market, suffer from hits to your reputation or pay more than you should for marketing products or services.
Being aware of how false information is being used will help marketers avoid problems and identify when they may be affected, saving them from both headaches and wasted dollars. Read on for eight ways false information is being used that you need to know about.