In the world of digital media, the relationships among users, editors, agencies, ad networks, brands, etc. is fundamental. Unfortunately, sometimes these relationships are destroyed by people who make mistakes that throw the healthy equilibrium of the ecosystem into chaos. They lie by claiming usufruct rights that they don’t actually deserve. If you don’t believe me, Google “Belle Gibson” and you’ll see what I’m referring to.
In short, Belle Gibson came up with a story where she was suffering from cancer. As a “young, single, entrepreneurial mother,” as the El País newspaper puts it, it didn’t take long for her to earn the public’s sympathy. She launched an app in 2013 that got 300,000 downloads, received 187,000 likes on her Facebook page, and published a book about her story and how she overcame it. These were only part of the promising results of her campaign. What it comes down to is that in every story, there is a good part and a bad part. The good news is that Belle doesn’t have cancer; the bad news is that her story is effectively a fraud.
Who is affected? You would think that the most troubled were the thousands of users that admired Belle and followed her daily through various digital media – we’re talking about people with cancer and their relatives who saw a light of hope in her story. Of course, there are also the brands, like Apple Watch for example, which would have included her app in the first version of its device.
Events like this instigate a “crisis of trust” because users begin to doubt content, brands become weary about their agencies not detecting these kinds of inconsistencies on time, agencies think that ad networks aren’t verifying their content, ad networks, in turn, blame the editors… a truly vicious cycle.
My recommendation? Relationships are based on both trust and communication. I don’t think that in the case of Belle there wasn’t communication, but the relationships were built upon a lie, which is a breach of trust. When the structure of relations is neglected and left unprotected, these types of situations can occur. Thus, always make time to maintain tight and permanent links with others. It may not save you from future Belles, but at least you will be more prepared.
This post is also available in: Spanish
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