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Getting Savvy in a Post-Trust Era with Shiv Singh

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“Always trust your own judgment. Don’t belong because it’s a good story, because it’s something that feels special, or because it’s something that everyone else is saying so.” — Shiv Singh

We are living in what is possibly the most difficult time to tell apart the real from the fake.

That is what inspired the married couple Shiv Singh, a marketer, speaker, and advisor, and Rohini Luthra, a board-certified psychologist, to write the book Savvy.

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Singh has learned how to navigate fake companies and leaders, despite living in a “post-trust” era. At Social Media Week New York, Singh broke down the savviest ways to stop perpetuating “fake news” in just five steps.

Don’t be complicit in the fakeness

Focusing on “fake news” to discuss the difficulties in telling apart real headlines from fake ones, Singh cited Deb Roy’s, former chief media scientist at Twitter, research which showed that fake news was shared seven times faster than real news, by real people.

“It’s not just Russian trolls,” Singh said.

How can we stop the perpetuation of fake news? Read more.

Singh specified that if people took time to read beyond the headline, they may find that the “news” is questionable, and thus be less willing to hit “share” on social media.

Fight the urge to always be right

Because Singh wrote Savvy with his wife, he comically claimed to know what it is like to fight the urge to always be right.

“Savvy is part business part psychology,” he said.

He pointed to companies like Tesla, which despite scandalous tweets and broken promises by owner Elon Musk, has continued to thrive throughout the years as its followers would rather feel they are right and choosing a reputation over reality.

“Tesla should not have sold as many cars as it did last year,” Singh said, highlighting the psychology behind people who blindly follow a brand like Tesla, which may be hyped up more than it merits. In the process, they ignore the reality of poor reviews and stories.

That is how badly some people want to be right.

Reevaluate how (and where) you place trust

Think of how, why, and what you are trusting, Singh suggested.

Within Savvy, Singh and Luthra drew on Morton Deutsch’s, a World War II Veteran and researcher of trust, work to find the role of trust in modern-day social networks.

“Deutsch said a fundamental challenge when it comes to trust is that we don’t have shared goals,” Singh shared, “and when we don’t have shared goals, we compete versus collaborate.”

In the context of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, if the goals of users do not match theirs, it becomes harder and harder to trust them.

“Consumers feel more like data providers than consumers,” Singh said.

With the knowledge that trusting brands saves time as people come to know what they will get time and time again, Singh resolved that ultimately companies have to earn that trust first in order for users to return.

Stop privileging belonging

Singh warned to keep the desire to belong at bay.

“Don’t assume anything,” he warned.

Citing the psychological aspect of Savvy, Singh talked about the phenomenon of “groupthink” (thinking as a group, instead of for one’s self) and how it plays a huge role in perpetuating fake news, particularly in an era where we can join large groups in just a few keystrokes.

“Always trust your own judgment. Don’t belong because it’s a good story, because it’s something that feels special, or because it’s something that everyone else is saying so,” Singh said.

Control the Influence of AI

People may not be aware of how much influence artificial intelligence has when it comes to their day to day browsing online.

Singh posed some reminders. He talked about an Amazon tool for facial recognition and video analysis software known as Rekognition, which performs best on lighter skinned people. The reason? The people coding it have implemented their own biases into the software.

Fears about Amazon’s facial recognition software are tied to civil rights as much as they relate to the problematic intersection of racism and technology.

While Singh believes a product like this should not be deemed really for roll-out, Amazon currently has Rekognition on the market, thereby leaving the control and recognition of these biases up to us.

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