Fake News Laws – Boon or Bane for your Business?

Do fake news laws hinder your digital marketing efforts? Many media reports have focused on the implications of the laws, with some hinting at how several Asian countries are using this to clamp down on political dissent. Some have even go on to suggest that such laws will impede freedom of speech and also prevent businesses from doing their online marketing.

On the commercial side of things, I see the new laws as a long overdue cleanup in the digital marketing arena. The digital is tremendously exciting and the space it created for creativity is limitless. No surprise that this platform has also been tapped for the wrong reasons. And this certainly did not appear overnight. As early as 2009, Chinese authorities decided that a tighter supervision is necessary as new media platforms enjoy a much wider and faster reach now.

The Macau Daily Times reported that “China has banned actors from portraying doctors and patients in TV and radio medical programmes and advertisements. The order was issued after the Beijing Times  exposed a middle-aged actor who portrayed four experts under different names to sell drugs on television, said the official Xinhua news agency.

The Macau Daily Times report, which was dated Feb 18, 2009, said “an actress was also singled out by the newspaper for playing different patients and claiming at various times that she had suffered from lung, liver, kidney and heart problems. She always testified that her ailment was cured by whatever medicine she was advertising at the time”.

“An Internet user also last month exposed 12 fake experts selling medicine using various identities in programmes carried by different broadcasters in China’s eastern Shandong province, the Shanghai Daily reported.” (See full article)

Imagine if you are responsible for the marketing of the business. An expose like that is not going to help the credibility of the business or your credibility for that matter. For any business which has been on the receiving end of a negative attack, you will probably appreciate the protection the new laws offer.

Speaking at the sidelines of a regional security conference, former United States secretary for homeland security Michael Chertoff told the Straits Times that “fake news isn’t new. The reason it became urgent to deal with is because the amplification and virility of fake news is a new phenomenon”. (See full article)

While Mr Chertoff’s comments was made in the context of fake news, the amplification and the virility of fake or hostile comments in commercial business is equally serious. Hence, I see the new laws more of a boon for digital marketing than a bane. The ability to call out the fake information will help to protect consumers and the legit businesses that have invested a lot of time and resources to build their name. 

Your digital marketing team can focus on building your brand to be known for good, and hopefully spend less time on fighting fake negative content. So while a good legal advisor flag out the no-go areas, your creative team can concentrate on creating good content for you. General awareness of what is fake also helps consumers to focus on what is genuine. That is, until the bad guys come up with their counter-move. Time to look for a good legal advisor on your team now to be part of your marketing team now.

[by Danny Lee, Associate Director]

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