Fake news and corporate reputation: What strategies do companies adopt against false information in the media?

Paola Castellani, Marina Berton

Abstract


Purpose. Mass communications have been advancing an unprecedented flow of information in the last decades. Fact distortion has been widespread as a consequence of the multitude of actors involved, combined with an increased number of willing-to-believe consumers. False information, propaganda, distorted reality, targeted disinformation, “fake news” as the term that has been gaining grounds, pose a real threat for democracy, the right to information, corporate image and corporate reputation. This paper aims to analyze the strategies that have usually adopted by companies to react to fake news in the media.

Methodology. The study is based on an inductive approach. More specifically, it is focused on the study of a fake news case represented by palm oil used by Ferrero Group in its Nutella product. Data collection is based on secondary sources and on websites connected to the case study.

Findings. The paper especially identifies the corporate strategies through which companies protect themselves from false information in the media. The companies considered for this study fundamentally adopt defense strategies against fake news in the media.

Practical implications. Suggestions for practitioners are provided for effectively dealing with the real danger of fake news. In particular the paper will reflect on strategies and behaviors already identified by service organizations that would reduce the effects of false information.

Originality/value. While the attention about the fake news topic is increasing in the political arena, very little studies are dealing with it in management terms. Although this paper is explorative in nature, it is a first study to look at this topic in the management literature.

Keywords


corporate communication; information quality; social media; social network; brand reputation; service organizations

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