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Fake News Menace Rises, Now Creeps Into Corporate World

A message on social media claimed that some real estate developers had defaulted on loans taken from Piramal Enterprises and its subsidiary Piramal Capital & Housing Finance (PCHFL).


Updated:October 23, 2018, 11:40 AM IST
Fake News Menace Rises, Now Creeps Into Corporate World
Representative Image

After causing deaths and political drama, fake news gnawed its way into the corporate world when last week Piramal Enterprises Ltd found itself a victim to the same.

According to a report by Economic Times a message on social media claimed that some real estate developers had defaulted on loans taken from Piramal Enterprises and its subsidiary Piramal Capital & Housing Finance (PCHFL).

Almost as a testimony to the growing trend, a few weeks ago, Nestle was in a spot after a WhatsApp message alleged there were poisonous substances in the products of its pet care entity Purina Petcare India. In September, the Infibeam Avenues stock lost 71 percent (https://www.news18.com/news/business/e-commerce-firm-loses-70-of-its-value-in-a-day-after-whatsapp-rumour-1892639.html)of its market value on a single day after a WhatsApp message circulated among traders raised concerns over the ecommerce company’s accounting practices. The message was attributed to Equirus Securities, which denied issuing any such information.

In July, Kerala-based Kalyan Jewellers claimed to have taken a hit of Rs 500 crore due to a spate of fake messages and videos on social media about the brand and its products.

According to Aditya Gupta, cofounder of iGenero, besides advertising to allay concerns and misinformation, companies can do little to prevent these instances. “At least on Facebook and Twitter, companies can write to them and they can act by blocking this content from people’s feed. But on WhatsApp it is very tough. The sheer reach and volume of the content is so high on the platform,” Gupta said.

While some companies don’t take the need for response and reputation management as seriously in India, larger ones such as Hindustan Unilever have big command centres set up to tackle such situations, said Zafar Rais, CEO of Mindshift Interactive.

“Having a social media agency alone is not enough. Having proper monitoring tools in place that can capture data before it spirals into something bigger is important. We have built a base of digital evangelists and influencers for some of our brands to help tackle situations like these,” said Rais.

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| Edited by: Ahona Sengupta
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