There has been an incredible amount of online discussion over the past six months regarding what is “fake” or “real” news. The majority of this discussion revolves around American politics, but the generalized focus is on two mediums for distribution of information, the cable news channels and the internet. The discussion of the reality of stories and information distributed on cable television is worthy, and everyone agrees that there should be a system in place for verification of the truth with regards to what is broadcast. The other medium is harder to control as there is not really a method of controlling independent websites. While cable TV has checks and balances that can be drawn upon to force truth in advertising, the internet itself can put any person who creates a website into the spotlight of attention, with literally no verification of the f actuality of anything they report. While this has been going on for years, few cases have been brought to light due to the fact that people did not use social media and the internet as a means of receiving news stories to the degree that they do now. For years, people with a negative agenda and malicious intentions have been using websites to spread falsehoods and untruths, and have remained unchecked….until now.
In the case of Lord Neil B Gibson, the multi-national business man and entrepreneur behind numerous global development companies, several large scale negative attacks over the course of several years created a negative perception of his intentions and business practices. These attacks were mounted by several individuals who had no basis for legal action against Gibson due to the fact that there had been no cases of actual fraudulent activity, so they took to the internet to spread completely fabricated news stories. Understanding that Gibson relies upon his reputation in order to secure partnerships and business connections, the attackers realized that the internet allows for completely unverified information to be picked up by search engines and distributed alongside verified information from legitimate sources. Anyone doing research on a potential business partner using a search engine would be presented not with the truth, but with any article that has more links than others. Attackers could literally manipulate the online reputation of a person by posting false news and linking to it, thus burying the true stories with their own false ones. Any person researching finds only negativity and potentially reconsiders doing business with the person. This is what happened to Gibson, with numerous websites being used to distribute false stories.
Over time, Gibson has worked toward a true presentation of his business and personal dealings on search engines using a variety of methods. Some of the websites that were distributing malicious information have been removed from the internet. Others still exist but have been pushed down in search engines due to accurate presentations taking their place. Several negative presentations still persist online (InverstorHub has a page that uses the word “fraud” in the title yet shows no evidence of fraud on the page, as well as several false news stories from a website in Belize that claims to be actual news) but Gibson has made great steps toward more accurate presentations of his businesses online over the years. Others share the same fate, with completely unverified sources gaining the potential of being taken seriously simply by search engine presentation, but the public is becoming aware of these activities and steps are being taken to stop them. In the mean time, all we can do is to consider the source before accepting something as “real news.”