The mass appearance of fake news on the web, above all on social media, has incited scientist to develop a “vaccine” against this digital disease.
Scientist from three British and American universities started with the claim that serving lies to people helps them see the truth better.
Their solution works much like a real vaccine: it exposes people to a small quantity of the virus, in this case, disinformation, in order to help them react to a larger amount better.
A truthful piece of news is injected with a small amount of untruth in the form of a warning, and the person becomes more resistant when faced with lies later on.
The study claims that, if people are first presented with certified facts on climate changes, and then with incorrect information on the same subject, the latter pushes back the former.
However, if correct information is combined with a small dose of disinformation, the effect of untruths is reduced.
Incorrect pieces of news spread like viruses, says one of the experts from the University of Cambridge, which gave them the idea of examining whether preventive exposure to small amounts of disinformation might act as a vaccine.
False news on social media have become a problem following Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory at the American presidential election.
Those who didn’t like this outcome of events assigned the blame, among other things, to a considerable impact of incorrect information which spread at the speed of light throughout millions of users of social networks.
For example, during the US election campaign, a false piece of news appeared on Facebook saying that the Pope had supported Trump and that Hillary Clinton was selling weapons to ISIL.
The backlash against Mark Zuckerberg’s network acted as an incentive for the company to establish instruments countering false news. As an example, users in Germany have been enabled to tag all the content they believe to be untrue, following which it will be sent for checkup to a non-profit investigative journalism organization.
If it gets determined that the content in question is untrue, it will be tagged as questionable. A similar program has been initiated in America and is currently in the testing phase.
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