22 Feb 2017
What happens you go viral and become fake news

The Day Fake News Made Me Insta-Famous

The media industry is undergoing yet another crisis. After decades of declining revenue, and the struggle to make the digital transition, now it’s the world’s increasingly loose acquaintance with facts that’s causing the headaches. Buzzwords like “fake news” and “Alternate Facts”’ are already so overused this year that they’re boring and it’s only February.

Those of us who still read news publications – quickly becoming as much a rarity as an inoffensive Trump tweet – are crying out for more reliable reporting. When fake news affected the U.S. election it became clear that what was once an annoyance, was now a real issue. It also meant that anyone dealing with the media needs to ensure there is as little room for a wide interpretation of the facts as possible.

And if you think I’m over-reacting…well…here is my latest tale of woe about how fake news can affect you. You see, there was a time when, for one brief day, fake news made me internet famous

My 15 Minutes Of Fake News Fame

It all started when I wrote the tongue-in-cheek “How one photo ruined my career (probably)” for this blog. Mumbrella, a leading media trade publication, ran it on its site. From there a number of other publications shared the love. They decided to make the headline a bit more exciting and dropped “(probably)”.

This is fine, the article still clearly read as a piece of bloody hilarious satire and anybody who took the time to read it would know that my career is fine. Unless you worked for the Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail, whose gift for a loose interpretation of facts recently led Wikipedia to categorise it as an unreliable source, wrote an article about the demise of my career. As if they’d interviewed me. Now being a Brit, appearing on the Daily Mail puts me right up there with some of my heroes, like Prince Harry, David Beckham, or the couple who got caught having sex on the beach in Dubai. However, I was a little surprised at the result.

My Reputation In Tatters

The headline said I feared “I’d never get a job again”. I definitely have a job. Worse, the article also had the biggest Alternate Fact of them all. For the reporter grabbed my Facebook profile photo of me holding a Koala and said that I had a “cuddly side”. I would like the record to show, this is definitely not the case.

Fake news mike is cuddly


It was fake news that impacted my everyday life. I lived in fear that people might hug me. Friends would greet me with an embrace and tell me they had no idea “I had such a cuddly side”. It was traumatising.

My Life as a Viral Sensation

And the story was EVERYWHERE. All my friends and family saw it. I had people I hadn’t spoken to in years messaging me saying “Didn’t think I’d see you again and then you popped up on the Daily Mail“. Facebook was full of messages and re-posts mocking me. That LinkedIn photo I wanted to hide from the internet was now actually all over it. Some people even took it upon themselves to share even worse photos of me, just to even it out.

Barbie Mike is fake news

That afternoon I was on my way to a client meeting when a colleague rang to say that Sunrise wanted to speak me.  I assumed it was a prank, but nope, they wanted me on TV. I did politely explain that I hadn’t actually lost my job and there was actually no news story here. They said they already knew this and were happy to run with the segment anyway! (I ended up getting bumped.)

My Moral For Your Brand

But all this goes to show you, fake news can affect your life. And if it can affect the individual, then it can affect your business. So, take heed, when working with news publications in this day and age, make sure the facts are clear and there is no room for misinterpretation. And check what photos you have on Facebook.


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