The University of Cambridge has designed a game to educate people about how fake news and conspiracy theories travel online.
The game, called 'Bad News', allows players to build a social media following by choosing inflammatory headlines and images to share with their imaginary fans. Players then earn achievements for impersonating celebrities and spreading misinformation
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have already shown that briefly exposing people to tactics used by fake news producers can act as a “psychological vaccine” against bogus anti-science campaigns.
They further aim to use the game for anti-radicalisation purposes, as many of the manipulation techniques, including using false information, are used to provoke intense emotions.
Based, in part, on existing studies of online propaganda, and taking cues from actual conspiracy theories about organisations such as the United Nations, the game will be be translated for countries such as Ukraine.
Sander van der Linden, director of the University of Cambridge Social Decision-Making Laboratory said: “Inoculation theory suggests that exposure to a weak or demystified version of an argument makes it easier to refute when confronted with more persuasive claims.
“If you know what it is like to walk in the shoes of someone who is actively trying to deceive you, it should increase your ability to spot and resist the techniques of deceit. We want to help grow ‘mental antibodies’ that can provide some immunity against the rapid spread of misinformation.”