Faked Out: A Crisis Communication Management

Sections of this topic

    A Crisis Communication Management Method, Faked Out

    Good crisis management means always verifying sources

    Tools for generating iPhone messages have become incredibly popular for creating funny memes to be posted on social media, but until we saw a recent post on the SteamFeed blog we weren’t aware that there is now a tool that replicates, very accurately, a tweet with any text you desire.

    Obviously, this tool wasn’t created with malice in mind, but as with many forms of technology, it’s quite a double-edged sword. Steamfeed’s Daniel Herbert summed up the dangers involved nicely in his blog post, here’s a quote:

    1. Fake Reputation and Endorsements

    Imagine if you’re an industry professional, trying to make it big. You want a super great endorsement on Twitter from the leading experts in your industry. Or you’re launching this scam product, maybe some ridiculous social media certification, and you want to get endorsements from big names in the industry and satisfied clients. Well, it’s now easier to fake it.

    Before, when you saw a Twitter screenshot of an endorsement, reference, or testimonial, it was legit. You believed it, and it gave extra credibility to the person who’s endorsed. Now, it could easily be faked, making self-proclaimed “gurus” look like they know what they’re doing, with fake endorsements, from “real” clients. This is in the same boat as buying fake followers/likes to make yourself look more “important.”

    2. Damaged & Ruined Reputations and Bullying/Harassment

    There are always petty people out there, trying to ruin others’ achievements. It sucks, but it’s true. If anyone wanted to start some fake drama, accuse people of saying nasty things, or accuse someone of bullying, they could easily create a fake tweet screenshot now, blog about it, and create some real damage towards someone’s reputation. If people search for the real tweets, you could easily say they’ve been deleted, and nobody can argue who’s right or wrong. Since most people don’t know about this tool, they would be more inclined on believing the person that’s creating a ruckus, than the poor person getting attacked. Not cool.

    How do you prevent yourself, or your organization, from falling victim to faked tweets, texts, or any other type of fabricated messages?

    This definitely falls under Crisis Communication Management – always check your sources! You simply can not rely on images from a third party. Go straight to the source, whether that means logging on to Twitter or actually picking up the phone and calling someone to verify that what you saw was indeed legit.

    As we engage more and more in the digital space, human verification increases in value. Even as you rush to react, remember that a delay is less costly than a mistake. Take a step back, make sure things are as they seem, then proceed.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also the editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]