Fake News and Digital Marketing

Fake news”, popularised during and after the US election, was first used to refer to media spreading misinformation.This seems to have mainly stemmed from social media posts which were believed to have influenced the outcome of the US election. Since, it has extended to cover fake content in general, mostly illegitimate websites or channels on social media that use ‘clickbait’ to gain maximum traffic and revenue. However, ‘fake news’ could arguably include legitimate and well-established businesses with an inherent bias or agenda and as such, this both directly and indirectly affects digital marketers and how they operate online. Especially in regards to the customer journey, posting content, and reacting to it as well.

Effect of Fake News On Currency

What happens when fevered foreign-exchange speculation meets fake news at the same time a satellite that shares the name of South Africa’s president goes missing?

You get the South African rand which had in the previous week, suddenly spiked more than 1% amid the confusion before snapping back less than 10 minutes later.

Here’s what happened: Shortly before 6:00 a.m New York time, false reports suggested South African President Jacob Zuma had unexpectedly resigned. Since Zuma isn’t much loved by investors, the rand shot up on speculation a new government led by the leader of the ruling African National Congress, Cyril Ramaphosa, was on the way in.

But, the report was false. The embattled leader will face an effort from within his party to oust him from office, perhaps as early as Wednesday, but that’s a far cry from a resignation.

“South Africa — like a lot of emerging markets — is especially prone to this stuff because the politics are a lot stranger than developed markets have traditionally been and thus more subject to headline risk,” said Paul McNamara, a London-based fund manager at GAM UK Ltd.

News-reading algorithmic traders may have been further confused by reports on the wires of a U.S.congressional aide saying that Zuma was lost. But this Zuma wasn’t Jacob – but rather the code name for the seemingly failed mission by Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to launch a military satellite. (Musk, coincidentally, was born in South Africa.)

A spokesman from the U.S Strategic Command said it had “nothing to add to the satellite catalog at this time” when after being asked if the new satellite was in orbit following reports that the rocket had crash-landed into the ocean.

The rand, for its part, eventually climbed back into positive territory and was up 0.3% to 12.3489 per dollar as of 8:47 a.m in New York.

With the rise of fake news and alternative facts in the American media, there are tech giants like Google and Facebook taking measures to combat the spread of pseudo-media on their websites.

To illustrate the surge in awareness of fake claims, consider the Google Trends map on fake news and alternative facts. Facebook currently seems to be taking the lead. The platform has taken a hard and fast stance against fake news, banning any ads on its network that has links to sites labelled as fake news sites.

Clearly, the recent spike in search volume for these terms indicates that people are taking to the internet to figure out what is truth and what is just noise. People are understandably skeptical about the news they see and hear.

Fake News Has Been Around For Long

While the spread of fake news in the digital sphere is a newer phenomenon, it is not a new concept in general. Various forms of disinformation, misinformation, yellow journalism and propaganda have been knowingly spread throughout history.


In modern times, it seems social media is a major contributing factor and channel for the spreading of fake news. But how exactly do social media platforms relate to fake news?

If a person or business offers manipulated, skewed, misrepresented or outright falsified data to support a business claim, then it may be fairly stated that they are engaging in fake news. Attempts to characterize these bogus business claims as legitimate may also be suitably viewed as the portrayal of alternative facts.