A new study from Germany finds that poorly worded press releases are one of the main culprits behind fake news, according to respected German current affairs magazine, Der Spiegel.
Researchers from the Stiftung Neue Verantwortung (Foundation New Responsibility) looked at ten proven examples of fake news circulating during the time of the last federal election on Facebook. They found that right wing media and blogs were more likely to pick up these stories, together with mainstream publications such as Welt.de und Bild.de.
While ambiguously worded press releases took most of the blame as the source of fake news, the think tank also pointed a finger at sloppy journalism. Another interesting finding was that “debunking” doesn’t work: It doesn’t have the same reach as the original article and fails to reach the same audiences.
While authors of the study said generally the volume of fake news was lower than expected during the German elections, the findings are a stark reminder just how much the news cycle and process of news selection has changed.
It is no secret that even major news outlets source information and stories from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and others these days. In this context, the press release has become just one digital asset of many as part of larger content marketing campaigns. However, different standards still apply (especially for government and regulated industries) for official company announcements versus marketing collateral, justifying the more comprehensive review and approval processes most organisations have in place for press releases before they see the light of the day.