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. 

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.

When we have this clarity we become far less distracted by fake news:

  • First, because much of it is irrelevant to what we are working to achieve. 
    Yes, Issue X might be complicated and difficult to understand or predict. But a) can I influence the outcome, b) does it stop me achieving my goals, c) is it my job to address this (or is it someone else’s job)?
    If the answer to any of these questions is no, then Issue X is probably distracting me from issues where I can make a difference.
  • Second, if the fake news does impact my ability to achieve what matters to me, then the clearer I am on my own values and purpose, the more the fake news won’t impact where I am trying to get to, though it might alter how I get there.

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 coalition of stakeholders, longing to get to where we want to be, who cares what the fake news is saying?

Our response to the fake news can shift from “Oh dear” to “So what?”

This is Twenty First Century leadership: whoever most inspires, wins.

How often do you find yourself distracted 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 those?


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

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