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 understanding and perception 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 it.

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

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

Second, because if some of the fake news does turn out to be relevant to us then it doesn’t alter what we are working to achieve but it might affect how we achieve it. So our focus can switch away from asking “Is this story true? How can I tell?” to “Who cares whether this story is true — does it alter what I need to do to achieve my objective?”

And third, because once we know our own purpose and values then, no matter what happens, there will always be other ways that we can achieve the same purpose (and do so in ways that remain true to our values).

So, 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 team of stakeholders, longing to get to where we want to be, who cares what the fake news might or might not be 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 news (fake or otherwise) that won’t really affect you? Are you clear about your own purpose and values? Are you working to build something in line with them?

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

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