Google Tests “Prebunking” in Fight Against “Misinformation”

Google is testing “prebunking” strategies aimed at “inoculating people against manipulation” and “misinformation” online, researchers say.

Researchers from Google and the UK’s Cambridge University teamed up to conduct experiments that involved five short videos aimed at “inoculating people against manipulation techniques commonly used in misinformation,” according to a paper published Aug. 24 in the journal Science Advances.

The study, titled “Psychological Inoculation Improves Resilience Against Misinformation on Social Media,” involved nearly 30,000 participants. Other authors included researchers at the UK’s University of Bristol and the University of Western Australia.

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The manipulation techniques commonly used in misinformation are “emotionally manipulative language, incoherence, false dichotomies, scapegoating, and ad hominem attacks,” the researchers said.

The participants were shown 90-second videos aimed at familiarizing watchers with techniques such as scapegoating and deliberate incoherence. The videos introduced concepts from the “misinformation playbook,” according to researchers, and explained to viewers in simple terms some of the most common manipulation techniques, using fictional characters as opposed to real political or media figures.


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