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A Psychological Vaccine Against Misinformation

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Much like a viral contagion, misinformation can spread rapidly from one mind to another. Moreover, once lodged in memory, misinformation is difficult to correct. Inoculation theory therefore offers a natural basis for developing a psychological ‘vaccine’ against the spread of fake news and misinformation. Specifically, in a series of randomized lab and field studies, I’ll show that it is possible to pre-emptively “immunize” people against disinformation about a wide range of topics by pre-exposing them to severely weakened doses of the techniques that underlie its production. This process of ‘prebunking’ helps people cultivate cognitive antibodies in a simulated social media environment. During the talk, I’ll showcase several award-winning real-world interventions we developed and empirically evaluated in 20 languages—with governments and social media companies—to help citizens around the world recognize and resist unwanted attempts to influence and mislead.

Join us along with Prof Sander van der Linden, known for his work in persuasion and misinformation/fake news, and particularly, his book on “Risk and Uncertainty in a Post-Truth Society”. He also helped develop the “Bad News” game, which teaches people about manipulation techniques used in fake news.

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