By Onome Amuge
November 22, 2020 has been acknowledged as the inaugural edition of the Global Day of Influence.
The Global Day of Influence has been put together to recognise the responsibility of those with influence, as well as to highlight and disincentivise the role played by impressionable audiences in promoting a circle of false narrative, skewed sentiments and negative influence.
The selected date also venerates Edward Bernays, an Austrian-American public relations pioneer who was born on November 22, 1891 and is widely regarded as “the father of public relations.”
Ayeni Adekunle, Nigerian entrepreneur and founder, Black House Media Group while speaking on the necessity of the Global Day of Influence noted that now that the world has entered the age of influence, this is the most appropriate time to begin discussing and activating the resources that will drive people towards the kind of leadership they badly need as well as play an active role in influencing the kind of direction needed for lives, families, nations and the world at large.
Adekunle also projected the need for people to answer a call of duty by helping other individuals, companies and governments communicate more honestly and responsibly.
The Global Day of Influence was also brought to fore following a series of events which has rocked the world in recent times, making it imperative for all stakeholders to evaluate the power and potential of negative influence.
Some of recent impacts of influence and its adverse effects include the uprise in demonstrations against police brutality over the past few years and suicide bombings over the last decade.
According to the U.S National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism, suicide bombing increased from an average of four per year in 2001, to over 400 per year by 2011, due to the precedent set by the 9/11 bombing.
Another recent example of the power of misinformation and influence is the 2016 U.S election, as many investigations are still being carried out to determine the impact of false narratives in swaying the outcome.
A Washington Post’s review of a study by Ohio State University researchers showed that fabricated stories favouring Donald Trump were shared a total of 30 million times, nearly quadrupling the number of pro-Hillary Clinton shares leading up to the election. The study also indicated that the most widely circulated stories were shared by well-meaning Americans who believed these false narratives and became advocates for the message carried in these stories.
According to a report by Statista, the average daily digital interactions per person stands at about 1,400, while in-person interactions is estimated to be around 25 for middle aged adults. This data shows that humans are interacting more than ever.
More so, the speed at which information travels is faster, and more impactful, hence the exigency for measures to be put in place to ensure the right narratives are being spread, a foundation for the creation of the Global Day of Influence.