Message from the IPRA President: Who will rebuild trust? February 2024
3 weeks, 5 days ago
Dear colleagues and fellows,
are you familiar with this year’s Davos conclusions? At the 54th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum last month the conclusion was that the biggest global risk in 2024 and beyond will be misinformation and disinformation. I am wondering, does this surprise us?
Trust is the ultimate question
Even before Davos, the latest Edelman Trust Barometer had revealed a new paradox in our global society. There is a collision of trust, with innovation, and politics. And even before we heard this from the Barometer, didn’t we as PR professionals already know what is coming? Have we not been dealing daily with the pernicious effects of misinformation and disinformation?
Is a lack of trust rooted in technical innovation?
Over the 30 years of my professional career, both in management and communications, we’ve been cautioned about the perils of technology. The Internet was the first threat with fake websites and phishing emails. Then we learned that our mobile phones were letting Google, Amazon and other tech giants know everything about us. We discovered that social media, a media policed effectively by no one, is the foremost means for our youth for communication and news. Not to mention, a new channel for bullying and intimidation.
And just as we were starting to use coping mechanisms for all the above, along comes artificial intelligence and the world’s best opportunity yet for fakery and disinformation.
A new optimism: how do we now cope?
Firstly, we need to tell ourselves that the only thing that should threaten us is ourselves. We must not stop learning, adapting, and improving.
Secondly, we must not allow companies nor individuals to remain silent when it comes to their responsibility for technological and trust-relevant changes in our society. We have the power in our democratic hands. In 2024 uniquely there will be elections involving over 4.5 billion people in more than 60 countries.
Finally, we must be smart in how we direct our efforts. Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI and the creator of ChatGPT has a sign above his desk that reads: No-one knows what happens next. Well, I say that gives us a direction. We already know that people trust their peers the most and that people will expect governments and communicators to help fight unwelcome change.
In 2024 we are witnessing the raising of PR to the next level and as its practitioners we must act. AI may add to fakery, but it will not replace our human care for each other.
Nataša Pavlović Bujas
IPRA President 2024