Cambridge scientists have come up with a new way to combat misinformation. So-called methods of psychological vaccination are beginning to be applied in the Czech Republic in cooperation with Google. Focus on fighting misinformation about Ukrainian refugees. Dutch research leader John Rosenbeek told Aktuálně.cz:

There is a constant debate these days about how to deal with the problem of disinformation. You came up with a method called psychological vaccination, the so-called “pre-banking”. (From the English word “”)Debanking”, which means revealing lies and frauds – editor’s note). How does it work and what is it good for?

Pre-banking works on a different principle than all previous efforts to combat disinformation that seek to expose or refute lies. I think this is a convenient way to do it, but I wanted to look for other options because if someone is lying, of course I shouldn’t allow it.

John Rozenbeek, Research Analyst. | | Photo by Twitter John Rozenbeek.

However, many people think that “psychological inoculation” is a metaphorical name for teaching media literacy in schools, so it is very difficult to introduce our method. But basically, I always explain that people are just trying to make disinformation resistant by exposing them to a diluted version.

So how did the term “psychological vaccination” come about? Is it really based on the principle of vaccination?

Yes, it works on the same idea as vaccination. Give people an antidote by showing how disinformation works. And they will become more resistant to them in the future.

How did you come up with such a thing?

This solution framework is originally from the 1960s, has been tested for decades, and works very well. But it’s only now that I’ve thought of using it in the context of disinformation. is. Lying is just one of his methods of manipulation, but there are others.

for example?

Evoking very strong negative emotions or identifying individuals belonging to a particular group to do bad things that most people don’t like. Disinformation providers are happy to point this out and make these members representatives of the entire group. This is the most common case, for example, with refugees and minority groups. This is just one of the cases in which some refugees cannot be determined to have lied to a false informant because they may have actually stolen something.

The key to that is knowing certain techniques…

Yes, I simply want people to be more aware of how misleaders can manipulate themselves. The effectiveness of this method has been proven not only in a survey of approximately 30,000 people, but also in the real-world environment of YouTube. Targeting her US users over the age of 18 who watch political content on the platform, she launched a large-scale advertising campaign that was viewed by nearly one million users.

Do you think this is probably the best way to deal with misinformation?

It’s certainly just one method, but I think they all have something in common. Fact-checking, media literacy, etc. At the same time, we must also consider how disinformation is “generated” and how it reaches people through the algorithms of social networks. I don’t want you to hear me. it’s not.

So what is it?

Reduce the amount of disinformation from Russia. This is the biggest problem we face. However, bot detection, further efforts by social media and other tools, and initiatives by government officials will not help in this. “Pre-banking” is only meant to allow people to set up certain sensors that can at least somewhat protect them from manipulators by being aware of the technology.

Your team created five short informative videos on these techniques that you posted on YouTube. why there? How big a role do you think YouTube plays in spreading misinformation?

I think he is very underrated. YouTube is good at keeping out of the limelight. For example, Facebook and WhatsApp are often mentioned in cases of misinformation. However, many studies point out that people are actually recommending increasingly bad types of videos. Many people watch highly questionable content without realizing it.

And is it a bigger issue than other social networks?

I recently came across a study by analyst Matteo Cinelli and his Italian colleague doing research on misinformation circulating on networks. They explored how that speed and intensity differed by different algorithms in media platforms. As a result, they surprisingly found no difference between them, except for one little-known American network, GAB, characterized by its extreme right-wing user base. , which was why she turned around.

what do you mean?

The main reason disinformation spreads at a different rate on the GAB network than elsewhere is not because of how the network works, but because the network attracts people with a certain range of opinions. In other words, people there communicate only in social and political bubbles.

You’ve started working with Jigsaw (Google’s research arm that investigates threats to your company – editor’s note) to bring your project to a wider audience. The result of the cooperation will be campaigns launched by Google in the Czech Republic and Poland. Its purpose is to combat misinformation about Ukrainian refugees. What will it be?

Based on a similar informative video on informant manipulation techniques. The goal is to show them to as many people as possible, but be as gentle as possible. . This can lead to so-called psychological reactance.

In such cases, people feel that their freedom to make decisions is threatened, they feel pressured, and eventually lead to being trapped in a bubble and rejecting new information. It’s the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do with We don’t want to convince them, we just want them to decide for themselves what to believe and always look at the information critically.

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