According to studies, 7% of American people fully believe in everything online-only news publications share and 14% of the respondents of a survey made in late 2016 have, before, shared fake news wilfully. These numbers show us how easily fake news is spread and believed on the internet. It is, in fact, becoming an important concern for quite a lot, such as a research team at Cambridge University who searched for a way to expose fake news creators and prevent their information from being believed.
What they have created, in partnership with the collective of Dutch journalists DROG, is an online game launched last week, in which you become the editor of a fake news magazine seeking to gain influence and create an impact on a social media such as Twitter, sharing fake but believable news. The main goal of the creators is to teach the player how to recognize a fake news and, like Dr. Sander van der Linden, the director of Cambridge University’s Social Decision-Making Laboratory says, the best way to do so is by putting them in the skin of an author of fake news.
“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”
Throughout the game, the goal of the player will thus be to get more internauts to believe they and their website are telling the truth. In order to do so, they will be playing with their followers’ emotions, photoshopping pictures or using a tweet to their advantage. They will be taught other technics such as conspiracy, discredit or trolling so that they can recognize these next time they encounter them online. Each action, advised by the bot leading the game, will bring them more or fewer followers and, sometimes, a badge.
The results have been inconclusive so far, but the experts, who described them as “restricted but promising,” intend to better their game, starting by asking the players to answer a few questions before and after using it, such as rating, on a scale from 1 to 7, how reliable they think certain posts and headlines are, in order to judge how much faith regular users have in Twitter and internet, as well as to see if the game does its job. The creators also plan on translating it to other languages to make it more accessible to everyone. Furthermore, they aim to create another version to fight online radicalization, which is becoming more and more threatening.
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