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  • Track Two

Cambridge Study Suggests A Game May Help to Inoculate Against Fake News

"Study of thousands of players shows a simple online game works like a 'vaccine', increasing skepticism of fake news by giving people a “weak dose” of the methods behind disinformation." - University of Cambridge (June 25, 2019)


At Whom Do We Trust 2018 Russian and American students, along with Track Two members and guests, gathered to discuss the power of media and the rise of disinformation across social media globally. Conference participants explored the causes, consequences, and ultimately potential solutions to this epidemic and engaged in an exercise wherein participants were asked to design a remedy to the spread of false information.

A recent study conducted by the University of Cambridge suggests that an online game may be part of the answer.

In February 2018 Cambridge researchers helped to launch web-based game Bad News in which players manipulate in-game news and social media using tactics commonly deployed in the real world to spread disinformation. Tactics included:

  • Deploying twitter bots

  • Photo-shopping evidence

  • Inciting conspiracy theories to attract followers

The study showed that among the 15,000 participants who played the game for 15 minutes, the perceived reliability of fake news was reduced by an average of 21% and that the game had no impact on how participants rated the reliability of real news.

This study is an encouraging step in the direction of combatting disinformation - it seems that the remedy to some of the negative effects of technology in the age of social media may lie, in part, in more intentionally-driven applications of said technology.

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