Misinformation is a major threat to companies around the world and the danger is likely to grow in future, say business leaders.
That is according to the newly-published survey Does fake news affect your business? from thought leadership specialist, iResearch Services.
Most of the 600 business leaders and 1,000 consumers surveyed said that misinformation is an extreme problem or a common issue. And more business leaders (54%) than consumers (44%) believe it will be a bigger problem in 20 years.
Yogesh Shah, CEO at iResearch Services said, “Misinformation thrives where there is a lack of accurate information. This suggests that businesses that are actively and effectively communicating information to their customers and the public are best poised to stay ahead of fake news and possess more credibility.”
Business leaders consider manipulated content – including fake news, distorted images and clickbait headlines – to be the biggest threat to their companies. Around one in three (37%) of both consumers and business leaders believe that manipulated context has the most impact on society and businesses.
Across industries, it is seen as the biggest threat by business leaders in financial services (43%), healthcare (37%), marketing and communications (34%), and information technology and services (33%).
The issue of misinformation is vital for business sales and profitability, as most consumers (85%) say they would not buy a product from a company associated with misinformation.
Reinforcing that message, 90% of consumers surveyed say reliable information is a “very important” or “fairly important” factor, affecting whether they choose to buy a product or service from a particular business.
One form of misinformation – ‘greenwashing’, where businesses claim their products are more environmentally friendly than they are in reality, is a major issue for the sustainability sector and those investing in it.
Most consumers aged 18-55 (67%) surveyed say businesses are doing at least what they say regarding sustainability. But those over 56 are much more sceptical, with 62% saying businesses are doing less than they promise.
More than two-thirds (68%) of business leaders say their sustainability messaging accurately reflects the level of activity taken, but 41% of consumers assert they are doing less than they say.
“This gap between the sentiments of business leaders and consumers indicates that companies still have more work to do to communicate their efforts when it comes to sustainability,” Yogesh added.