“Pre-placement” holds promise in the fight against misinformation | Business news

Soon after the Russian invasion, the deceptions began. Ukrainian refugees got jobs, committed crimes and abused handouts. The misinformation spread quickly on the Internet throughout Eastern Europe, at times pushed Moscow in an attempt to destabilize their neighbors.

They blame the rapid spread of lies manycountries to increase the polarization and an erosion of trust in democratic institutions, journalism and of science.

But countering or stopping the misinformation has proven elusive.

However, new findings from university researchers and Google suggest that one of the most promising responses to misinformation may also be one of the simplest.

In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, researchers detail how short online videos that teach basic critical thinking skills can make people better able to resist misinformation.

The researchers created a series of public announcement-like videos that focused on specific misinformation techniques — characteristics seen in many common false claims that include emotionally charged language, personal attacks, or false comparisons between two unrelated subjects.

The researchers then gave people a series of claims and found that those who watched the video were significantly better at distinguishing false from true information.

It’s an approach called “prepositioning,” and it builds on years of research into an idea known as inoculation theory, which suggests exposing people to how misinformation works by using innocuous, fictional examples that can strengthen their defenses against false claims.

With the findings, Google plans to release a series of pre-test videos soon Eastern Europe focused on finding scapegoats, which can be seen in a large part of disinformation about Ukrainian refugees. This focus was chosen by Jigsaw, a division of Google that works to find new ways to fight misinformation and extremism.

“We’ve spent quite a bit of time and energy studying the problem,” said Beth Goldberg, head of research at Jigsaw and one of the paper’s authors. “We started thinking: How can we make users, people on the Internet, more resistant to misinformation?”

The two-minute clips then demonstrate how these tactics can be displayed in headlines or social media posts to make a person believe something that is not true.

They are surprisingly effective. Subjects who watched the video were found to be significantly better at distinguishing false statements from accurate information when tested by researchers. The same positive results were obtained when the experiment was repeated on YouTube, where almost 1 million people viewed the video.

Researchers are now investigating how long the effects last and whether “booster” videos can help maintain these benefits.

Earlier findings suggest that online games or textbooks that teach critical thinking skills can also improve resistance to misinformation. But videos that can be played alongside online ads are likely to reach far more people, said John Roosenbeck, a professor at Cambridge University and one of the study’s authors.

Other authors include researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK and the University of Western Australia.

Google’s effort will be one of the biggest real-world tests of pre-placement to date. Videos will be published on YouTube, Facebook and TikTok, in of Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. All three countries have taken in large numbers of Ukrainian refugees, and their citizens may be vulnerable to misinformation about refugees.

Jigsaw CEO Yasmin Green said the pre-posting work is meant to complement Google’s other efforts to reduce the spread of misinformation: “As misinformation grows, we can do a lot more to give people tips and features to help them stay safe. and informed on the Internet.”

While fact-checking journalism can be effective in debunking certain misinformation, it takes time and work. By focusing on the characteristics of misinformation in general rather than specific claims, pre-post videos can help a person spot false claims on a wider range of topics.

Another method, content moderation by social media companies, it is possible often inconsistent. While platforms like Facebook and Twitter often remove misinformation that violates their rules, they have also been criticized for unable to do more. Other platforms like Telegram or Gab boast a a largely foolproof approach to misinformation.

Moderation of social media content and journalistic fact-checking can also discourage those who believe misinformation. They can also be ignored by people who legitimate news agencies are no longer trusted.

“The very word fact-checking has become politicized,” Rosenbeck said.

However, the previous videos do not make any specific claims and do not state what is true and what is not. Instead, they teach the viewer how false claims work in general—any claim elections or NASA landings for the monthor the latest outbreak of bird flu.

According to John Cook, a research professor at Australia’s Monash University, this transferability makes the pre-apartment a particularly effective way to combat misinformation. have created online games that teach you to spot misinformation.

“We’ve done enough research to know it can be effective,” Cook said. “Now we need resources for large-scale deployment.”

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