There’s a prevalent narrative that trust and truth are dead. Some even call this the post-fact era. But Ipsos research finds these concepts alive, important, and more valued than ever. So, ironically, that is fake news, for lack of a better term. Wait, there is a better term: disinformation.
Truth is not dead, but it is under assault. Intentional disinformation from nations and individuals (as opposed to less nefarious misinformation) is just one front in the war. Another is people screaming about the “lamestream media.” Finally, there’s the rise of synthetic content making it harder for us to trust what we see and hear. This issue is therefore, hopeful, but also cautious and alert. Just as your brand should be. Using exclusive new Ipsos data and research, coupled with expert interviews, we set the scene with the state of truth and how that plays out with an important purveyor of truth: the news media. Then we delve into how brands tell their truth in this complicated landscape in general, and in these hyper-polarized election times. The truth is, truth is complicated these days, just like everything else. A proliferation of outlets means that it’s always possible to find something we might consider a truth. But is it the truth? There are large, systemic forces at play, ranging from disinformation campaigns, to nativist and populist sentiments that impact how and where we find the truth. Then there are new forms of disinformation, like synthetic videos that purport to show real people saying things they never said. It’s getting harder to believe even things that we see with our own eyes. That’s by design, of course. If we can’t believe what we see, we’ll fall back on trusting certain people or outlets that reinforce the truth we already believe, rather than challenge us to defend our truths as new evidence surfaces. One thing is certain: Without a guiding set of truths, we’ll all have a hard time making heads or tails of the world we live in and finding much-needed consensus on politics, brands and our collective and individual futures. How do we earn the trust needed to tell the truth? Read on. The questions you need to ask yourself and your organization — and a path toward the answers — just might be in here.