Fake News and the Top High-Tech Brands: A Delphi Study of Familiarity, Vulnerability and Effectiveness: An Abstract
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Fake news is one of the most discussed phenomena in politics, social life and the world of business. Recent literature has indicated that it can be a serious threat to brands and their management. Brands can be both victims of, and either unwitting or deliberate agents of fake news. This paper presents the results of a three-round Delphi study of a panel of brand marketing scholars in which they indicated their familiarity with ten major high-tech brands, and estimated the vulnerability of these to fake news, and how effectively these brands would deal with fake news. The levels of familiarity with the brands vary considerably, and it also appears that lower familiarity with the brand (with one notable exception) is associated with higher estimates of vulnerability, and lower estimates of the management’s ability to deal effectively with fake news.
The researchers considered a large number of commercial media brand ratings with titles such as, “World’s Best Hi-tech Brands”, “100 Most Valuable Brands”, “25 Best Technology Brands” and the like. Not surprisingly all these lists are marked by their differences rather than their similarities. A handful of brands such as Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft feature in all these rankings, but behind them, there tend to be differences. For purposes of this study, the researchers then settled on and included the following ten high-tech brands: Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Google, Intel, eBay, Facebook and Dell.
The fake news phenomenon is unlikely to dissipate in the future, especially as social media technologies continue to make its spread so much easier. The risk to brands will be ever-present and will almost certainly increase. Hi-tech brand custodians do and will need to be vigilant of how they might be vulnerable and to have contingency plans in place for that day in the future when their brand becomes a target.