Fake news ‘vaccine’ works: ‘pre-bunk’ game reduces susceptibility to disinformation
An online game in which people play the role of propaganda producers to help them identify real world disinformation has been shown to increase “psychological resistance” to fake news, according to a study of 15,000 participants.
In February 2018, University of Cambridge researchers helped launch the browser game Bad News. Thousands of people spent fifteen minutes completing it, with many allowing the data to be used for a study.
Players stoke anger and fear by manipulating news and social media within the simulation: deploying twitter bots, photo-shopping evidence, and inciting conspiracy theories to attract followers – all while maintaining a “credibility score” for persuasiveness.
“Research suggests that fake news spreads faster and deeper than the truth, so combatting disinformation after-the-fact can be like fighting a losing battle,” said Dr Sander van der Linden, Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab.