In a world where people can’t believe what they see, here’s what businesses should prioritise
When Aviv Ovadya speaks, it’s worth listening.
In the run up to the 2016 US presidential election the chief technologist at the Center for Social Media Responsibility warned of the systemic exploitation of emerging technologies. This, he said, would be enabled by rapid and unpredictable accelerations in machine learning, AI and augmented reality.
In his words, an ‘infocalypse’ was coming.
Now, he says: “I am even more deeply concerned about the future of our democracy now than I was in mid-2016.”
A new report, The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence: Forecasting, Prevention, and Mitigation, compounds these anxieties and goes further – breaking down threats into digital, physical and political impacts.
Like Ovadya, it points out the sophistication of these technologies and calls for policy makers and AI researchers to prioritise the responsible usage of this technology.
But what Ovadya and the AI experts caution against stretches much further than anxiety over fake news. They warn of a dystopian descent into a fake world.
Videos of politicians preaching false realities, aided by speech-synthesis software. Celebrities faked into porn films with machine-learning algorithms. Social media messages from best friends convincingly forged with automated laser phishing.
As these tech threats centre on the manipulation of visual, aural and written communications, businesses need to know how this unnerving future will implicate the consumption and creation of content.
It’s real, trust me
Just as today we ignore calls from numbers marked as spam, auto-send messages to junk boxes and disregard truth behind mock news sites, Ovadya warned a future saturated with mistruths could create mass ‘reality apathy’.
A world where information is assumed false and news outlets lose their value is ultimately a world where trust in information is gone.
But how can marketers communicate with an audience apathetic to information?
As in all periods of international uncertainty, authority figures have a duty to reassure, fact-check and – most importantly – build trust. Services and projects such as the BBC’s Reality Check and First Draft are prime examples of this and demonstrate that putting facts as a priority can pay dividends.
3 tips for building B2B trust
In light of this, we’ve collected three tips to help businesses adopt this model of reassurance and put building (or indeed, rebuilding) trust with clients at the top of the agenda.
1. Stay cyber safe – from padlocks to passwords
A safe digital environment will help consumers trust where and who they source their content from.
Ensure visitors perceive your website as secure by installing a Secure Sockets Layer certificate (a.k.a. the comforting green padlock in front of your website URL) which can be activated by your website host.
Protecting your businesses’ digital information internally is just as important as protecting your external cyber reputation. Responsible password setting is therefore essential for protecting your servers, ensuring what you make public hasn’t been corrupted and, ultimately, preserving and legitimising your content.
For 10 more business cyber tips, have a look here.
2. Diversify your content portfolio
In an age plagued by digital anxieties, it makes sense to also invest your communications outside of the digital space.
If websites become compromised by cyber attacks (or if AI means the robots do indeed take over), you’ll thank us if you’re holding a strong print portfolio.
For marketers, the B2B space may need to adapt to balance trusted website and app content with print magazines and newsletters. This would help combat online reality apathy by reaching customers who have had their digital trust compromised by fake content.
Once your print offering is in the hands of the consumer, it can restore faith in a brand by existing as a tangible hard copy that can’t be corrupted, phished or deleted. And the good news? Print is bouncing back.
3. Get your facts straight
Now you’ve seen the dystopia that consumers may be paranoid about, you should review how your strategies for content creation could address these worries.
Is it clear when your content was created – from company updates, to contact details, to articles?
Content that’s outdated can damage consumer perception. Yet it’s simple to rectify: date content clearly and update irrelevant statistics and contact details. Does your business regularly check that content sources haven’t been compromised – whether by a cyber attack or an intelligent AI bot?
Address this by consistently checking and double-checking your sources and facts.
There’s no quick fix to building faith with an increasingly sceptical audience. But these tips can help you make a real impact in a culture of mass misinformation and distorted identity. Trust us.