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Google Finds 'Inoculating' People Against Misinformation Helps Blunt Its Power

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The strategies and tools being deployed during this year’s midterm vote often resemble those used to combat misinformation in past elections.

Credit: Scott McIntyre/The New York Times

In the fight against online misinformation, falsehoods have key advantages: They crop up fast and spread at the speed of electrons, and there is a lag period before fact checkers can debunk them.

So researchers at Google, the University of Cambridge and the University of Bristol tested a different approach that tries to undermine misinformation before people see it. They call it "pre-bunking."

The researchers found that psychologically "inoculating" internet users against lies and conspiracy theories — by pre-emptively showing them videos about the tactics behind misinformation — made people more skeptical of falsehoods afterward, according to an academic paper published in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday. But effective educational tools still may not be enough to reach people with hardened political beliefs, the researchers found.

From The New York Times
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