Business Standard

Tech fixes and human psychology needed to stop spreading fake information


Researchers suggest that just technological fixes are not enough to stop rival countries from spreading fake information on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Use of human psychology is also required to battle these disinformation campaigns, claim researchers.
The details were published in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy.
"There is so much attention to how social media companies can adjust their algorithms and ban bots to stop the flood of false information," said Nisbet, an associate professor.
"But the human dimension is being left out. Why do people believe these inaccurate stories?"
Russia targeted American citizens during the 2016 election with posts on every major social media platform.
This is just one example of how some countries have distributed "fake news" to influence the citizens of rival nations, according to the researchers.
The researchers discussed how to use psychology to battle these disinformation campaigns.
"Technology is only the tool to spread the disinformation," Kamenchuk said.
"It is important to understand how Facebook and Twitter can improve what they do, but it may be even more important to understand how consumers react to disinformation and what we can do to protect them."
But there are ways to use psychology to battle disinformation campaigns, researchers Kamemchuk and Nisbet said.
One way is to turn the tables and use technology for good. Online or social-media games such as Post-Facto, Bad News and The News Hero teach online fact-checking skills or the basic design principles of disinformation campaigns.
Because campaigns to spread false information often depend on stoking negative emotions, one tactic is to deploy "emotional dampening" tools.
Such tools could include apps and online platforms that push for constructive and civil conversations about controversial topics.
More generally, diplomats and policymakers must work to address the political and social conditions that allow disinformation to succeed, such as the loss of confidence in democratic institutions.
"We can't let the public believe that things are so bad that nothing can be done," Kamenchuk said.
"We have to give citizens faith that what they think matters and that they can help change the system for the better.

Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content

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First Published: Apr 27 2019 | 3:07 PM IST

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