The media has come under attack from Donald Trump as of late for their spinning of stories in order to make an issue appear the way they want it to. What this means is that true stories are being presented on television and newspaper outlets in a way that can make the person in question look good or bad, depending if that outlet supports that person or not. In Donald Trump’s case, the accusation of the mainstream media presenting his news in a way that ultimately makes him look bad has been referred to as “fake news.” Since there is little viewership or readership for stories that are not sensationalized, most outlets are guilty of spinning to a certain degree. The problem is that this is nothing new, and “fake news” has been used as a tool to slander public figures for many years.
In the case of Lord Neil Gibson, the fake news came in the form of a smear campaign. A business rival of Gibson’s decided that he wanted to harm Gibson’s ability to conduct business. In order to accomplish this task, he created a series of websites that were designed to look like news distribution services. Within these websites, he populated truthful information about Lord Gibson that could be found in the public space, creating a situation where the website then appeared credible on the topic of Neil Gibson. After this credibility was established, search engines like Google then began positioning articles from the websites in the results that were returned for searches for Gibson’s name. This is when the attacker began posting false information on these same sites, completely fabricated and designed to make Gibson appear less than reputable. The search engines indexed this information believing it comes from credible sources, and as a result when a Google search was performed for “Lord Neil Gibson” the results were overwhelmingly negative.
While this may seem as though it would not be all that big of a deal, and that anyone who would click through to the articles would then quickly realize that the source was not a real news outlet, the attacker realized that this is actually not human nature. When researchers were deciding to become partners with someone or not, they will generally peruse the results that are returned on the search engine looking at the headlines and the small snippet of description information. All the attacker had to do was create negative headlines and the results appeared overwhelmingly negative. Once confusion is created, many people will potentially reconsider doing business even though the information is patently “fake news.”
Lord Gibson has mounted a multi-year battle to clear his name and ultimately present truthful information to those considering partnering with him. He has created a series of official websites that distribute accurate information about his business dealings, and encourages those doing research to only trust valid sources for information. While the battle against “fake news” undoubtedly will continue, Lord Gibson is attempting to do his part to clean up the internet.