As the fake news toll rises across the globe, researchers have come up with a solution to help keep the mass off misinformation. Scientists have developed a latest psychological “vaccine” to immunise the public against the damaging “virus” of fake news and misinformation on websites and social media. In medicine, vaccinating against a virus involves exposing a body to a weakened version of the threat, enough to build a tolerance. Researchers, including those from University of Cambridge in the UK, believe that a similar logic can be applied to help “inoculate” the public against misinformation, including the damaging influence of ‘fake news’ websites propagating myths about climate change.
A new study published in the journal Global Challenges compared reactions to a well-known climate change fact with those to a popular misinformation campaign. When presented consecutively, the false material completely cancelled out the accurate statement in people’s minds – opinions ended up back where they started
“We wanted to see if we could find a ‘vaccine’ by pre-emptively exposing people to a small amount of the type of misinformation they might experience. A warning that helps preserve the facts.
“The idea is to provide a cognitive repertoire that helps build up resistance to misinformation, so the next time people come across it they are less susceptible,” said van der Linden, a social psychologist at Cambridge, as per Indian Express reports.