The 2020 election will be unprecedented in many respects. More people will be voting by mail, and there will likely be more democratic participation online than ever before. Internet platforms and communication services will become more influential forums as people are restricted from in-person conventions and debates. But even before the pandemic pushed these operations online, some lawmakers were already seeking to monitor misinformation in political discourse on the internet, specifically in the context of deepfakes. Deepfakes are manipulated photo, video or audio clips generated by computers, often with the assistance of artificial intelligence algorithms. They can make someone appear to say or do something that never actually happened or create realistic images of people who do not exist.
Managing reputation is tough when every person with a social media account is a potential critic with global reach. Organizations must contend with the concern that one negative social media posting could destroy hard-earned goodwill built up through years of thoughtful investments and interactions. While social media platforms allow for organizations to efficiently engage with their target audience, they also allow users to easily become the targets of reputational attacks, such as unfounded complaints or smear campaigns. The potential for posts to go viral, the ability for posts to remain with seeming permanence on the internet and the capacity for social media users to mask their identities make it difficult for organizations to mitigate the consequences of an online reputational attack. The good news is that victims of such an attack are not without recourse. Generally, there are four options for responding to a negative social media post:
- Do Not Respond to the Post
- Respond Directly to the Author
- Contact the Social Media Platform
If, when and how to respond are decisions that must be made by each organization individually after considering several factors, including those discussed below.