Knowing Thy Enemy and Fighting the Good Fight: A Framework for Organizational Preparation for and Response to AI-driven Disinformation Campaigns

Elise Karinshak (undergraduate student) and Yan Jin’s paper “Knowing Thy Enemy and Fighting the Good Fight: A Framework for Organizational Preparation for and Response to AI-driven Disinformation Campaigns” received the Emerald Professional Impact Award from Journal of Communication Management at the 24th EUPRERA Congress, Vienna, Austria.

Abstract: Disinformation, false information designed to mislead, can significantly damage

organizational operation and reputation, interfering with communication and relationship

management in a wide breadth of risk and crisis contexts. Disinformation literature in security and computer science has assessed how previously introduced technologies have affected disinformation, demanding a systematic and coordinated approach for sustainable counter-disinformation efforts. However, there is a lack of theory-driven, evidence-based research and practice in public relations that advises how organizations can effectively and proactively manage risks and crises driven by AI. As a first step in closing this research-practice gap, we first synthesize theoretical and technical literature characterizing the effects of AI on disinformation. Upon this review, we propose a conceptual framework for disinformation response in the corporate sector, that assesses (1) technologies affecting disinformation attacks and counterattacks and (2) how organizations can proactively prepare and equip communication teams to better protect businesses and stakeholders.

 

The Effects of Corrective Communication and Employee Backup on the Effectiveness of Fighting Crisis Misinformation

Abstract: Crisis misinformation, including false information about a crisis or a crisis-stricken organization, has become a fundamental threat to organizational wellbeing. Effective crisis response geared toward fighting crisis misinformation demands a more systematic approach to corrective communication. Grounded in misinformation debunking theory, this study aims to advance misinformation research in public relations and organizational crisis communication. An online experiment using a U.S. adult sample (N = 817) was conducted to examine the effects of corrective communication strategy (simple rebuttal vs. factual elaboration) and employee backup (present vs. absent) on perceived message quality, organizational reputation, and perceived crisis responsibility. Results show: 1) the use of factual elaboration and the presence of employee backup were direct contributors to crisis response effectiveness; and 2) perceived message quality mediates the effect of corrective communication. This study provides insights into advancing crisis communication theory and offers evidence-based recommendations for practitioners to combat crisis misinformation more effectively.

Yan Jin, Toni van der Meer, Yen-I Lee (Grady PhD Alum), and Xuerong Lu (Grady PhD Student). (Forthcoming).