Six ways to battle a viral hoax

A social media pundit suggests what to do if you—like McDonald’s—find yourself battling a locust swarm of false rumors on the Web.

There you are, minding your own business dishing out Angus Chipotle BBQ Bacon Snack Wraps, when—bam!—you are hit by a malicious Internet hoax.

And it’s going viral.

That was the position McDonald’s found itself in recently, as the ever-present legion of conspiracy theorists and gullible buffoons began flooding email in-boxes and social networks with a doctored photo that implied the company was racist.

The hoax was heavily covered last week. Less commented on in the mainstream press was just how to fight back. But now Christopher Barger offers ideas in Forbes’ Social Media Report.

First the background: The hoax picture showed a Photoshopped sign on the door of a McDonald’s dining establishment with a note saying African American customers must pay an additional $1.50 surcharge for their meals.

You’d think that nobody outside a Hollywood thriller would be so conspiracy-minded as to think a corporation would purposely offend its customers. But Target, Starbucks, Pepsi, and Hershey have also found themselves battling hoaxes in recent years, Barger says.

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