Lynn PR, a Cardiff-based behavioural science communications agency, has launched a first-of-its-kind ‘Misinformation Cell’ designed to help governments, public institutions and businesses tackle the ever-growing threat of misinformation, marking Wales out as a world-leading country in this field.
CEO and founder of Lynn PR, Shayoni Lynn, says that the new Cell will “combine behavioural science tactics and insights with the latest in counter-misinformation research” to offer support for communications teams battling against misinformation online.
In July of this year, the real-world effects of misinformation in Wales became clear as protestors gathered outside the residence of Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford, chanting “arrest Mark Drakeford” and calling for him to “come outside”.
Last month, Director of Cardiff University’s Crime and Security Research Institute Professor Martin Innes, in an article for the Institute of Welsh Affairs, called on the Welsh Government and Senedd to do more to protect Wales from the threat of disinformation, warning that “digital disinformation and political polarisation online is translating into increasingly worrying offline behaviour”.
The Cell, which makes Lynn PR the first PR agency in the United Kingdom to offer this kind of service, won’t just be providing support here in Wales, but offering their services beyond Wales’ borders too. Misinformation strategist Stefan Rollnick will be leaving the Office of the First Minister in Cardiff to join Lynn PR and lead the Misinformation Cell.
CEO of Lynn PR Shayoni Lynn said:
“Misinformation is a threat to all of us and it knows no borders. Someone in Merthyr Tydfil might not take the vaccine because of misinformation they absorbed from someone in Mississippi. It’s vital that governments, institutions and businesses across Wales work proactively to protect the Welsh public from harmful information.
“Wales is used to punching above its weight: whether that’s in rugby, music or science. We’re really proud to be a part of putting Wales on the map in the global fight against misinformation.”
Less than a fortnight ago, one of Wales’ most senior critical care consultants blamed online misinformation for increasing pressure on Covid wards in Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran. Dr Ami Jones blamed the increased pressure on younger patients who had become seriously ill after not taking up the offer of the vaccine.
Dr Bnar Talabani, a Cardiff-based doctor who has developed a following on Tik Tok from her myth-busting content about Coronavirus, has found that the impact of misinformation can often be tragic.
“In addition to dealing with a pandemic, we are also dealing with an ‘infodemic’ of misinformation and it’s putting people’s lives at risk. The vast majority of those being hospitalised with and dying from COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated. We know this is preventable for the majority because being vaccinated with both doses prevents severe disease in over 90% of people.
“The saddest thing I have been told by my colleagues in intensive care is: before being intubated, many of these patients, who are often victims of misinformation, beg for the vaccine, but sadly by then, it’s too late.
“Please be careful where you get your information from & follow the scientific evidence.”