A new game helps to teach people to recognise and avoid disinformation and fake news
The term ‘fake news’ has become all too common in media coverage. However, a news item doesn’t have to be entirely made up to be misleading. Many fake news stories intend to deceive, often with a political agenda. Disinformation works because many people fail to recognise false information. A recent study, conducted by Britain’s Channel 4, found that only four percent of those surveyed could tell fake news from real. So how to inoculate people against fake news? Dutch organisation DROG, which works against the spread of disinformation, has teamed up with researchers at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom to develop a game that they claim can help confer resistance against false or misleading information.
The game, titled The Bad News Game, works by putting players in the position of creating fake news, so that they gain insight into the tactics and methods used by ‘real’ fake news-mongers to spread their message. This, in turn, builds up resistance to fake news. In the game, players are shown short texts or images and can react to them in a variety of ways. Choosing an option similar to that followed by a ‘real’ producer of disinformation earns the player more followers and credibility. Lying too blatantly, choosing an option that is obviously ridiculous, or by failing to act in line with journalistic best practices, will instead lose followers and credibility. The aim of the game is to gather as many followers as possible without losing too much credibility.
The Bad News Game is suitable for use in schools and takes around 20 minutes to complete. It joins other recent socially conscious educational innovations such as a cooking app that encourages healthy eating and a board game that eases discussions about arranged marriages. What other ways are there to increase awareness of issues such as fake news?