Edelman launches global anti-disinformation offering

Yannis Kotziagkiaouridis, one of the leaders of Edelman's anti-disinformation team.
Yannis Kotziagkiaouridis, one of the leaders of Edelman's anti-disinformation team.

Disinformation Shield aims to uncover illicit actors on the fringes of the dark web and combat disinformation.

CHICAGO: Edelman has launched Disinformation Shield, a global service designed to help private-sector organizations combat false narratives. 

The latest addition to the firm's CommsTech offering, Edelman created Disinformation Shield to help companies monitor disinformation, even on the dark web, and combat it with transparency and fact-based communications campaigns.

The team counseling clients will include corporate reputation and crisis specialists, predictive intelligence experts, behavioral scientists and psychometric analysts. 

Global corporate practice chair Jim O’Leary and chief data and analytics officer Yannis Kotziagkiaouridis are leading Edelman’s team. Sander van der Linden of Cambridge University's Social Decision-Making Lab and Graham Brookie, managing editor of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, will serve as advisers.

An impetus for the offering was the Edelman Trust Barometer 2021, which showed an epidemic of disinformation and distrust and more than two out of three executives at large global companies worrying about the weaponization of false information, said O’Leary.

“Many of our clients are concerned about the adverse effects of the ‘infodemic,’ and we’ve seen a significant increase in C-suite demand for our assistance to combat disinformation," he said. 

Disinformation Shield's technology stack draws on Edelman's Data & Intelligence business unit, led by Kotziagkiaouridis, and uses proprietary technology to combat disinformation in three ways. 

First, algorithmic analysis identifies disinformation at its source before it spreads, according to Kotziagkiaouridis. Then, a team of experienced data scientists, behavioral scientists and crisis comms specialists leverage the algorithm analysis to develop a communications mitigation strategy. Finally at-risk audience segments are identified. 

"Edelman uses the best of modern comms targeting techniques to engage stakeholders who are likely to be coerced, sharing corrective messaging before an attack creates long-term reputational damage," Kotziagkiaouridis said. 

Edelman launched its CommsTech offering last September, billing it as a service and series of tools that bring together data and analytics to help clients predict consumer behavior, reduce risk and quantify social impact.

The agency posted a 5.7% revenue drop in 2020 to $840 million, not including the effect of currency fluctuations. In the U.S., its organic revenue dipped 4.2% to $531 million. 

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