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How to recognize fake news?

Infox : comment se prémunir des fake news ?
Published on
17 July 2020

Crises such as the Covid-19 epidemic create an environment filled with stress and anxiety. In this context, fearmongering, outlandish claims and other fictitious ideas can spread easily. The recent crisis generated a rise in fake news around the world. In the face of such an anxiety inducing context, how can you recognize and deal with fake news?

Over the past months, fake news has impacted everyone. Even leading medical publications such as the Lancet and The New England Journal of Medicine had to withdraw an article related to Covid-19 information provided by a US company, Surgisphere. The published study (The Lancet, May 22) suggested that hydroxychloroquine, when associated with an antibiotic such as azithromycin, could increase mortality in patients hospitalized with Covid-19. In France, the publication resulted in the molecule no longer being used for treatment and a suspension of clinical studies to test its efficiency.

"In a press release, The Lancet indicated that the article's withdrawal was requested by three co-authors, but not Sapan Desai, the surgeon and founder of the company Surgisphere, which supposedly collected medical data on 96,000 patients in 671 hospitals across 6 continents," highlights the newspaper Le Monde, and the goes on to conclude: "Now remains the task of analyzing and understanding how a small unknown company like Surgisphere was able to associate highly recognized researchers to its article and pass the review process at two of the most prestigious medical reviews."

A crisis is fertile ground for fake news

In concrete terms, such fake news can impact an institution's credibility, harm society and individuals due to negative consequences in terms of public health and the sector's image. A crisis offers fertile ground for fake news because tension is high and leaves little room for rational thinking in the world of the internet and social networks.

"It's important to check the veracity of information in order to not help spread rumours," underlines Yannick Chatelain, associate professor and researcher at Grenoble Ecole de Management where he is in charge of IT/Digital development and is an expert for the UNODC. Fake news about 5G antennas and their potential ability to spread the coronavirus is another example of rumors propagated by conspiracy theorists, who went as far as to destroy antennas in the UK. "Another negative impact of fake news is that it drowns out real facts in a swell of false information… This means that whistleblowers for example might not be heard."

For this reason, it's essential to be vigilant about internet information, especially in times of crisis. Common sense must remain at the forefront. "The guiding principle is to double-check information as soon as it is published. Sometimes we re-tweet an article based on 280 characters without even reading the article!" concludes Yannick.

Recommendations to evaluate information

  • On social networks, blogs and websites be careful when you are strongly encouraged to share a message, especially when it is scaremongering.
  • Check the context and ensure there is coherence between images, video, text, voice overs, etc. Also check the timeline. You can use Google images to check the validity of a "shocking image".
  • Check the website's reliability. The French website, lesdecodeurs.com, created by Le Monde, is a reference point in France to check the validity of a website's information.
  • If information appears to be defamatory, is it also being shared by reliable French and international sources such as leading media?

  Latest publication: "Chroniques du Technomonde, les évolutions récentes d'Internet, pour le meilleur ou pour le pire". Editions Maxima Laurent du Mesnil 

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    La mention « origine locale » apposée sur un produit alimentaire déclenche chez le consommateur des perceptions plus positives et une intention d'achat plus forte qu'un produit d'une autre région française. Trois études portant sur 632 consommateurs...

  • Published on 07 September 2015

    Energy market barometer report: the development of energy prices

    The next Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) will take place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December. The Paris Climate Summit, announced as one of the biggest climate negotiations in history,...

  • Published on 03 July 2015

    Making a success of your business transfer: new tools developed for a European project

    Every year, approximately 150,000 business transfers fail in Europe threatening some 600,000 jobs. BTAR's European project, launched in early 2015, aims to target the vulnerabilities in business transfer systems and draw on best practices in order...

  • Published on 23 June 2015

    Baromètre de la finance : Climat mondial des affaires juin 2015

    La perception du climat des affaires par les responsables financiers français et la comparons aux résultats obtenus en Europe et dans le reste du monde. L'évaluation des sources de risque pour l'entreprise ainsi que les prévisions de croissance des...

  • Published on 22 June 2015

    Research: Microeconomic Degrowth, Community Supported Agriculture

    Economic growth is the cornerstone of mainstream macroeconomics. In the face of economic crises and unemployment, growth has long been the only acceptable solution. Yet many issues have started to challenge this dominant economic model. As a result...

  • Recherche : nutrition des sportifs et plaisir
    Published on 16 June 2015

    Is It Fun or Exercise ? The Framing of Physical Activity Biases Subsequent Snacking

    While the benefits of exercising are widely accepted by consumers and healthcare providers, people who begin an exercise program don't necessarily lose weight. A fact that can be frustrating not only for practitioners, but their coaches and...

  • Mark Olsthoorn, professor and researcher at Grenoble Ecole de Mangement
    Published on 07 April 2015

    Barriers to Electricity Load Shift in Companies, a Survey-Based Exploration of the End-User Perspective

    Overcoming the barriers to renewable energy systems is a key challenge. In shifting from centralized fossil-fuel energy production to decentralized solar and wind energy production, countries are being forced to act on multiple fronts : flexible...

  • Mark Olsthoorn, professor and researcher at Grenoble Ecole de Mangement
    Published on 07 April 2015

    Recherche : Effacement de consommation électrique, pourquoi les industriels hésitent

    En acceptant de réduire leur consommation électrique lors de pics de demande, les industriels faciliteraient l'équilibrage des réseaux de distribution. Or, ils ont de solides arguments pour ne pas jouer la carte de la flexibilité. Une étude les...

  • Vincent Mangematin, Associate Dean for Corporate Relations and Research at Grenoble Ecole de Management
    Published on 17 March 2015

    Orchestrating Innovation with User Communities in the Creative Industries

    In search of continuous innovation, the digital creative industries have expanded their interactions with user communities to develop their products. This study highlights the evolution of these company-user relationships that allow for fluid...

  • Published on 16 January 2015

    Nostalgia makes consumers more likely to spend or donate money

    The use of nostalgia has been a top trend in marketing in the last few years, in commercials, product lines and even TV shows. The present study demonstrates that feeling nostalgic weakens the desire to hold on to money, and makes it easier to part...

  • Joachim Schleich, professor and energy markets experts at Grenoble Ecole de Management
    Published on 01 December 2014

    Research: Switching to energy efficient lighting : a bright idea!

    Energy efficiency policies such as the EU ban on incandescent light bulbs (and on halogen ones in the near future) have been the subject of much discussion in the last few years. The majority of the academic community predicted that new emerging...

  • Published on 07 November 2014

    Research : Digitization, Changing How We Work and Coordinate Projects

    All of us use digital tools and objects that can now be shared and combined in a variety of ways. This change has profoundly influenced the organization of work with projects being divided according to specialization and geographical location.

  • Published on 07 November 2014

    Recherche : Effets spéciaux pour le cinéma, l’art de faire collaborer 60 métiers

    Comment les spécialistes des effets spéciaux collaborent-ils sur un même film alors qu’ils appartiennent à 60 métiers différents et sont répartis dans le monde entier ? Deux chercheurs de GEM ont étudié les mécanismes de coordination qui structurent...

  • Erno TORNIKOSKI is a Professor in Entrepreneurship at Grenoble Ecole de Management.
    Published on 16 September 2014

    Research: How can the start-up process be accelerated?

    Success or failure of new businesses is what most studies related to the start-up process focus on. However, in today's dynamic market, time is a highly critical issue for nascent entrepreneurs.