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How to use defensive communications to counter brand disinformation

Welcome to the PRmoment Podcast.

On the show today, I’m chatting with Rafi Mendelsohn, VP marketing at Cyabra, about how brands can counter disinformation and fake track stories before they become a problem.

It’s a serious show today - we’re talking evil bots, stock market manipulation and cluster analysis - which helps you decide which circles of conversation you need to worry about.

Cyabra AI is a tool that uncovers fake accounts and the GenAI content that fuels disinformation campaigns. So, it’s part of this anticipated wave of good bots versus bad bot situations that I suspect will become part of all our lives.

Rafi’s previous PR experience includes spells at Ketchum, MySupermarket and The PR Office.

On the subject of AI, take a look at our latest PR Masterclass: PR and AI. It’s only been live for a week, but already tickets are going quickly.

Thanks so much to the PRmoment Podcast sponsors the PRCA.

Here is a summary of what Rafi and Ben Smith founder discussed:

3 mins Defensive communications are not new, they’ve always been a vital part of reputation management but in this age of digital automation and social media lead misinformation wars - what’s changed for brands in their defensive communications strategies?

“The planning and preparation (for crisis communications) is becoming much harder”

“To understand who is driving the conversation (in a crisis communications situation) and to uncover the good, the bad and the fake is very difficult.”

5 mins Which brands are more likely to be targeted by mis and disinformation campaigns?

6 mins How does Cyabra work?

9 mins When you look at bot accounts campaigns, what are the tell-tale signs?

“Look at the A.B.C - the accounts, the behaviours and the content.”

12 mins What is the difference between misinformation and disinformation?

“Disinformation is the mothership.”

“Misinformation is often the result of a (successful) disinformation campaign?”

14 mins What makes a disinformation campaign effective?

16 mins How can you counteract a misinformation or disinformation campaign?

17 mins Rafi talks us through how you can track stories before they become mainstream. How can you predict which ones will become a problem?

“The expectation of taking down tens of thousands of accounts spreading misinformation is not realistic.”

20 mins Who’s behind these disinformation campaigns and the legions of bot accounts? What are their motives?

“The motivations have been the same for hundreds of years: chaos, influence, power, money.”

21 mins Why, as part of misinformation campaigns, real-life “journalists” quoting bots is becoming an increasing problem.

“Disinformation campaigns are increasingly targeting journalists.”

“There is a new tactic that is increasingly part of disinformation campaigns: deception, imagery, and persuasion (DIP). Taking something that is real and putting it out of context”

26 mins Rafi talks us through the recent disinformation campaign where Rip Curl was a victim of a disinformation campaign after it featured a transgender surfer in its latest women’s campaign.

The hashtag #BoycottRipCurl was driven by fake accounts, and the disinformation campaign was picked up by The Mail Online, amongst others as it fitted with its anti-woke agenda.

“Ripcurl found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“The 424% increase in #BoycottRipCurl was not driven by real people; it was driven by fake accounts, and when Cyabra drilled into what are those fake accounts, (and) who are they, we uncovered that those accounts were bots created in advance for the Indian election."

“What happens in the authenticity stage for a bot is that they engage in conversations outside of what they want to talk about.”

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