When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

Fake News: A Threat To Democracy, But Also To Big Business

Phony press releases are a big thorn in the sides of many multinational companies. These big shots may dominate the stock market, but they're struggling to keep the fake news out of prestigious papers

A man walking past a Nikkei stock index in Tokyo, Japan.
A man walking past a Nikkei stock index in Tokyo, Japan.
Laurence Boisseau

PARIS — It was a first in France when, in 2016, the construction company Vinci was targeted by a fake rumor claiming their financial director had been fired and major accounting errors had been committed. Yet many similar incidents had already occured abroad. In the United States, for instance, corporations like Bank of America, General Electric, Pfizer, Intel, Shell, Chevron and. Google had all been victims of fake press release scams. In Europe, Ryanair, the EIB (Europe Investment Bank) and G4S, a British group specialized in security services, have also been subjected to this type of fraud.

These hoaxes haven't died down. On April 1 2021, a phony press release claimed that the Portuguese oil group Galp was giving up its involvement in northern Mozambique to pursue a "100% sustainable future." In 2019, BlackRock and its leader Larry Fink were also victims of identity fraud. A false letter, supposedly written by the asset manager, stated he would sell his shares to companies that would not meet the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement. This simple email managed to fool several leading media outlets, including the Financial Times.

A fake press release is sent through a fake email address, with a link referring to a fake press room and a fake phone number.

The hackers behind these scams are pursuing two different kinds of goals. The first is stock market gain: They seek to influence the stock markets after having positioned themselves to capitalize on the market fluctuations provoked by their fake news. The second goal is to undermine the company's reputation. In this scenario, the perpetrators are political activists, environmentalists and anti-liberals. They almost always employ the same method: A fake press release is sent through a fake email address, with a link referring to a fake press room and a fake phone number allowing to call a fake press office. Even if the journalist calls to check the information, he or she will be confirmed it is authentic — even though it's not.

Google offices in New York, USA. — Photo : Richard B. Levine/Levine Roberts

These operations are costly to companies, both in terms of stock market impact and reputation. In 2019, a study from the American University of Baltimore estimated the cost of these scams at $17 billion in the United States. French corporations are also taking the situation very seriously. For the past two years, a dozen listed companies from the CAC 40 — a French benchmark stock market index — such as AXA, BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole, Engie, Air Liquide, Schneider, L'Oréal, Renault and Bouygues have purchased a tool that allows them to fight against fake news.

With just one click, the company can encrypt the data they want to share in the blockchain.

The French company Wiztopic has developed a product called Wiztrust that allows all financial communication media (press releases, financial results, photos) to easily certify this kind of information. With just one click, the company can encrypt the data they want to share in the blockchain. This way, journalists and investors can ensure — in real time — that the released information belongs to the company itself. Last January, Wiztopic signed a partnership with Euronext, which will be commercializing the tool to issuers who want it. This contract is very likely to speed up the growth of this technology. In any case, it will open up markets in the Netherlands, Portugal and Northern Europe. Perhaps it will eventually solve this pesky problem for corporations worldwide.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.


The Colonial Spirit And "Soft Racism" Of White Savior Syndrome

Tracing back to Christian colonialism, which was supposed to somehow "civilize" and save the souls of native people, White Savior Syndrome lives on in modern times: from Mother Teresa to Princess Diana and the current First Lady of Colombia, Verónica Alcocer.

photo of a child patient holding hand of an adult

Good intentions are part of the formula

Ton Koene / Vwpics/ZUMA
Sher Herrera


CARTAGENA — The White Savior Syndrome is a social practice that exploits or economically, politically, symbolically takes advantage of individuals or communities they've racialized, perceiving them as in need of being saved and thus forever indebted and grateful to the white savior.

Although this racist phenomenon has gained more visibility and sparked public debate with the rise of social media, it is actually as old as European colonization itself. It's important to remember that one of Europe's main justifications for subjugating, pillaging and enslaving African and American territories was to bring "civilization and save their souls" through "missions."

Even today, many white supremacists hold onto these ideas. In other words, they believe that we still owe them something.

This white savior phenomenon is a legacy of Christian colonialism, and among its notable figures, we can highlight Saint Peter Claver, known as "the slave of the slaves," Bartolomé de Las Casas, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Princess Diana herself, and even the First Lady of Colombia, Verónica Alcocer.

Keep reading...Show less

The latest