Countering disinformation and fake news

This short film from 2014 describes how Russia’s President Putin (and others) have deliberately used disinformation and fake news to undermine people’s perception and understanding of the world.

As the film explains, the approach is deliberately intended to create so much confusion and ‘churning’ in our minds that we no longer understand what is happening: who is doing what, why, or with what intentions.

In the face of such confusion, the film says, our only response is to say “Oh dear” and give up.

But that is exactly what the creators of fake news want us to do. 

And there is another, more useful, response.

That is to get clear on who we are, what matters most to us, and what we are doing to achieve that.

And when we have this clarity we become far less distracted by fake news, for three reasons.

First, because if we know our own priorities then much of the fake news becomes irrelevant — so we can ignore it.

Second, because if it turns out the fake news is relevant to us then it doesn’t affect what we are working to achieve but it might affect how we achieve it — so our focus can switch away from “Is this story true? How can I tell?” to “Who cares whether this story is true? What do I need to do to ensure that I achieve my objective anyway?”

And third, because if we know our purpose (and values) then we know that even if we can’t achieve a particular goal there will always be other ways to achieve the same purpose (and to do so in ways that ensure we remain true to our values).

The more strongly we inspire ourselves and other people to work to build what we care most about, the less the fake news will matter — because when we have an inspired collection of stakeholders who are longing to get to where we want to be, then who cares what the fake news is saying?

This is Twenty First Century leadership: who inspires, wins.

This is how we become antifragile.

And this is how our response to fake news can shift from “Oh dear” to “So what?”

How often do you find yourself distracted away from your priorities by fake news that won’t really affect you? Are you clear about your own purpose and values? Are you working to build something in line with your purpose and values?


Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.

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