Blog post
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Faqcheck Insights - Roundup #2

May 31, 2024

Welcome to Faqcheck Insights, your guide to keeping up with disinformation trends and recognizing potential threats that may impact your business or organisation. We’ve identified a number of misinformation threat opportunities affecting the aviation sector, the entertainment industry and ongoing disinformation threats stemming from the continuing Israel-Palestine war in the middle east.

Airlines and passenger safety

Photo by Tim  Dennert on Unsplash

The tragic incident of SQ 321 where passengers experienced 62 seconds of hell opens many conversations about airline safety and crisis management. 

While airlines and plane manufacturers can take several measures to enhance passenger safety, companies in this sector need to get ahead of online chatter about the anxiety of flying as well as those with ill-intentions to spread disinformation about this industry.

There will be scrutiny on flight operators and existing standard operating procedures, and the public sentiment on how confident they feel about flying. Unverified tweets like this and this, where users post information with minimal fact checks are likely to spark nervous chatter in the online space. 

SQ 321 joined the spate of high profile incidents, such as the MH370 disappearance, shooting down of MH7 in the Ukraine and Russian conflict , a Japan Airlines fire and a recent turbulent-stricken Qatar Airways flight

Adding to this is the issue of Boeing which has faced several high-profile issues with its planes. Some of them include fatal crashes  involving Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which had flaws in the MCAS software. 

Boeing has experienced production issues with its Dreamliners in 2020, and its 777X planes faced certification challenges and testing setbacks. These incidents have severely impacted Boeing’s reputation, financial stability, and regulatory relationships, prompting extensive reviews and safety enhancement

The reporting of these events heightens the need for aviation players to have verified information and facts shared with the public about safety of flying. And just as important is the need for companies to directly address misinformation on social media through public statements to quickly stem any potential crisis that could impact an airlines’ reputation and brand. They could do this by regularly monitoring online discussions to get ahead of any form of disinformation before it becomes an issue.  Alerts on hot topics such as these will help in addressing rumours or fake news before it could be blown out of proportion.

At the same time, social media is rife with informative videos that counter rumours.  For example, this video shows a pilot explaining the rarity of severe turbulence and that pilots are trained to ensure passenger safety during unexpected incidents. 

SQ managed to steer clear of any informational crisis, as pointed out by this analysis, but this event presents opportunities for others to stay ahead of rumour mongering and fake news. In light of this, experts are talking about using technology such as artificial intelligence to provide predictive maintenance for more accurate weather forecasts, which may or may not open more opportunities for disinformation.

Deepfake videos and artificial intelligence

Photo by Cash Macanaya on Unsplash

The rising threat of deepfake fraud should be a priority for companies as it can lead to financial losses amounting to millions of dollars if corporations were not aware of possible misuse and abuse of image, voice and videos circulating online.   

News of a Hong Kong company employee transferring £20m in a deepfake video conference call scam, highlights the real dangers posed by this technology. And more recently, Capital A Bhd CEO Tony Fernandes spoke up about an alleged deepfake video going viral on Facebook. In another corporate case, the CEO of WPP Mark Read became the target of a scam where fraudsters impersonated Read by using a fake WhatsApp account, a voice clone and YouTube footage in a virtual meet.

No one is spared from this technology, as the ease of creating deepfakes and their ability to mimic real individuals convincingly make it challenging for businesses to distinguish between genuine and manipulated content.  In the case of voice mimicry, actress Scarlett Johansson lashed out at OpenAI about their chatbot whose voice was “eerily similar” to her own. 

As deepfake technology advances, and becomes more easily accessible, the risk of malicious actors using it for fraudulent activities such as impersonating senior officers to request money transfers, is likely to increase. Companies must be vigilant and implement robust security measures, including thorough identity verification and anti-fraud protocols, to protect themselves from falling victim to deepfake scams and financial fraud. This is particularly important for companies that use or provide AI technologies who need to take extra measures to assure users of the privacy and security of data while complying to existing personal data protection laws.

3Rs and the entertainment industry

Photo by Bogomil Mihaylov on Unsplash

In Malaysia, actors and comedians need to be mindful of the 3Rs, which stand for race, religion, and royalty, due to the sensitivity and potential legal implications associated with these topics. 

Recent incidents involving Singaporean comedian Sharul Channa highlight the importance of being cautious when addressing these issues in performances. The cancellation of Channa's show in Malaysia was reportedly due to concerns over an old video that touched on 3R issues, leading to police reports and subsequent permit cancellation by the Malaysian authorities.

It’s not only entertainers that have to be aware of such sensitivities and potential misinformation. Venue and logistic providers as shown in this Pinkfish party must be wary too. In this event, KTMB provided a carriage for organisers to host the Pinkfish Express, part of a larger Pinkfish Music and Arts Festival. It was called to question by Malay conservative politicians who claimed the event did not reflect the values of Rukun Negara and tarnishes the name of KTMB, which is a national asset.

The topic of 3Rs does not only just affect Malaysia, but neighbouring Singapore where the public debated if a South Korean DJ would be allowed to perform in full monk attire. The entertainer has since said he would ditch his robes so that his show can go on.

Closer to home, a Terengganu resort was fined RM25,000 for hosting an annual bikini party, called Aloha Party with authorities citing that the hotel breached many regulations including Muslim-friendly conducts in the state.

Misinformation about such events can be spread at any time, so entertainment companies, performers and content creators as well as venue operators will need to navigate these sensitive topics carefully. 

 Israel-Palestine war: ZUS Coffee and company boycotts

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Malaysian coffee brand ZUS Coffee found itself in the centre of a latest backlash against Israeli-linked corporations or affiliations.  The coffee brand was criticised heavily for taking part in a recent Adidas sports event. ZUS Coffee  responded swiftly with two apology statements to its consumers. But according to this marketing analysis, its apologies did not quite hit the mark due to usage of certain words and phrases which experts found did not resonate with their audience.

Meanwhile, the proposed privatisation of Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) made headlines because it could involve a consortium that includes Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a company owned by BlackRock.

Although not finalised, critics argue that BlackRock's significant investments in US defence companies, such as Lockheed Martin, which supplies weapons to Israel, make the deal controversial given Malaysia's public opposition to Israel's actions against Palestinians. 

The privatisation has sparked concerns about the potential lack of oversight and the possibility of foreign control over a strategic national asset. 

Boycott fever is not likely to die down as companies - regardless of their size -  will need to conduct due diligence and specific audience analysis to manage their reputations. Read about other boycotts here in Faqcheck’s first edition of Insights. 

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