Vaccine For Fake News: Creator Explains Nature Of Timely Game

Fake news is like a contagious disease that spreads rapidly from one person to another. The growing use of social media across the world contributes to increasing misinformation, which affects how people respond to various issues. 

Due to its significant impact on the public, multiple organizations and the government have been launching campaigns against fake news. Just like any disease, prevention is the first response being prioritized by these campaigns.

To help people identify wrong information, researchers at Cambridge University created a "vaccine" for fake news. 

The team is offering a new online video game that allows people to create misleading information through Twitter, websites and memes. Users also gain exposure to virtual followers and can establish their credibility. 

Researchers said the "Bad News" game allows people to experience being a fake news creator, which helps them understand its impact and be able to resist such information in real life.

"Just as misinformation spreads like a virus we thought the potential vaccine could be... a vehicle that people could share and learn something from," Sander van der Linden, one of the game’s developers, told CNN

Playing The Bad News Game

The Cambridge team applied psychological approaches to help people best learn by playing the game. It only requires up to 15 minutes to complete.

Players aim to secure six badges that reflect misinformation strategies, from impersonation, provocative emotional content, polarization, conspiracy theories, discrediting opponents to trolling.

Results of tests with 15,000 participants, published in the journal Palgrave Communications, show that players improved their ability to spot and resist misinformation after completing the game. 

"When you go to a magic show you may be duped by the trick because you don't know how it works," van der Linden said. "But once you know how it works you won't be fooled again."

Google already expressed interest in the game. The public previously criticized the tech giant for allowing conspiracies and fake news spread across YouTube and WhatsApp.

Van der Linden said that the British Foreign Office and the European Commission are also working with his team to introduce the game to the public. 

Bad News is available at The researchers plan to introduce a special version of the game for WhatsApp.

Fake News The growing use of social media across the world contributed to increased misinformation, which affect how people respond to various issues. Pixabay