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Inoculation against misinformation on social media

Feb 25, 2023

Thanks to social media, anyone can create and broadcast self-made content to massive audiences. While this sets the stage for unprecedented creativity and broader narratives, it also allows misinformation to run rampant.

Assessing the quality of social media has become an art form all its own. The paper below includes some hopeful findings on ways inoculation theory can help us ‘build psychological resistance to unwanted persuasion attempts, much like medical inoculations build physiological resistance against pathogens’.

We find this paper incredibly optimistic. As we face our increasingly complex media future, it’s easy to feel like we’ll never be able to make sense of it all. But there are new approaches to digital literacy and hygiene being developed every day, equipping us with the psychological tools necessary to navigate this uncertain terrain.   

ACTION ITEM:

  • Watch at least one of the videos shown to participants in this study. You’re probably thinking, “I know better” or “I’m not the type of person to fall for that”, but the truth is everyone is susceptible to manipulative information. We can all benefit from acquainting ourselves with the, often subtle, tactics used to distort facts.

READ FULL PAPER: Psychological inoculation improves resilience against misinformation on social media

or WATCH VIDEO PRESENTATION: Psychological inoculation against misinformation

KEY QUOTE: “In seven preregistered studies, i.e., six randomized controlled studies (n = 6464) and an ecologically valid field study on YouTube (n = 22,632), we find that these videos improve manipulation technique recognition, boost confidence in spotting these techniques, increase people’s ability to discern trustworthy from untrustworthy content, and improve the quality of their sharing decisions. These effects are robust across the political spectrum and a wide variety of covariates.”

JOURNAL: Sciences Advances

AUTHORS:

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