News & Events

How to tackle fake news

Friday, June 29, 2018

Since social media was born, the way we communicate, absorb, and interact with information has changed dramatically. The fast-paced and real-time nature of news shared online along with the accessibility for consumers has caused social media to overtake traditional media platforms across the board. 

Where news sources, journalists, and those at the center of a story would previously have time to research, check facts, and prepare a response, now it can take a matter of seconds for news to spread online – genuine or otherwise. 

We caught up with Ros Breese, our Media, Film & TV Underwriting Manager - Professional Risks, at BIBA 2018 to hear her thoughts on how we are looking to bridge the gap to a world without fake news.

Fake news and reputational damage

Take the recent Beckham story. On Friday 8th June 2018, media all over the world went into a frenzy as rumours circulated about an affair between David Beckham and his daughter’s school teacher, claiming that Posh and Becks were due to announce their divorce the following day. These rumours started on social media with gossip on Twitter becoming a ‘trending topic’ and speculation running wild to the point that bookmakers suspended bets on the couple’s separation. 

While the couple has denied the allegations and labelled them as ‘fake news’, this type of widespread online backlash comes with the worrying possibility of reputational damage. For the Beckhams, their popularity as individuals is huge but their brand as a couple is infinitely stronger. Raising question marks over their marital status has the potential to also raise question marks over the pair as a brand, which puts their lifestyles and careers at risk. For the woman linked to the affair, a statement from her father says that the hearsay has tarnished his daughter’s reputation. There is also the reputational damage to the otherwise highly reputable school involved, which is said to have had to hire attorneys following the accusations.

This wouldn’t be the first case of fake news threatening the reputation and credibility of a public figure. In May 2018, Martin Lewis brought defamation action against Facebook for damage to his reputation and brand arising out of fake ads which were posted on Facebook. 

How can we tackle it?

There are lots of ways we can tackle the issue and impact of fake news. Cancelling the accreditation of journalists, encouraging corporates and individuals to sign up to a Global Internet forum, and hiring more moderators to tackle fake news are just some of the generic solutions.

From a Tokio Marine HCC (TMHCC) perspective, we look at the question: Is harm to reputation an insurable risk? We are set to launch reputational damage cover to deal with such an occasion. Our cover will include immediate access to PR, legal advice, legal expenses including the removal of offending content, and brand reestablishment.

General Data Protection Act (GDPR) and the right to erasure

We have also seen the introduction of the new GDPR law, which will have a huge impact on the industry. Part of this legislation deals with the right to be forgotten and the right to erasure, and arguably removes the threshold by which a claimant can sue for damage or distress caused by misuse of their personal information. A recent example is the case against Google back in April where two claimants argued that details of spent convictions should be taken down as they were no longer relevant.

This article does not represent personal advice or any recommendation. Please seek advice from your Insurance Broker who will be happy to look at your individual business needs and circumstances.

Tokio Marine HCC is a trading name of HCC International Insurance Company plc, which is a member of the Tokio Marine HCC Group of Companies. HCC International Insurance Company plc is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority. Registered in England and Wales No. 01575839 with registered office at 1 Aldgate, London EC3N 1RE.