Posted in #HCSM

Here’s How Bots and Trolls Spread Fake News on Social Media

Fake news. It’ not only a problem in politics; misinformation online is a huge problem in healthcare.

Just like fake news, untrustworthy health information problematically circulates across social media platforms.  Facebook is one of the biggest offenders.

A study conducted by Oxford University showed that content from less reputable sources gets shared 4x more than content from reputable, trusted news outlets across Facebook.

There is some good news on this front. Recently Facebook announced it’s to take a stand against vaccine denial by directing people searching for information or using vaccine hashtags to web pages set up by public health bodies.

And a Finnish Public Broadcasting Company has created a tool which taps into the power of gamification to increase public awareness of  how “fake news, emotive content and bot armies are utilized to affect moods, opinions, and decision-making.”

The game, called Troll Factory,  shows you first-hand how information operations work on social media. It makes use of authentic social media content around polarizing themes like climate change and immigration to highlight the roles played by paid bots, demographic microtargeting, fake news, and conspiracy theories in misleading and amplifying propaganda.

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Players learn to wield the tools that trolls use as they seek to influence public opinion: botnets, paid marketing and internet memes in a realistic mobile setting. This gives them an opportunity to reflect on their real-life choices, and to better understand the consequences of their actions.

In its review of the game, TechCrunch states “The best medicine against online disinformation is an informed society that’s thinking critically.”  Troll Factory is a creative and clever way to promote digital media literacy, especially among people who don’t consume traditional news (more people now get their news from social media than from newspapers)  and helps social media users understand how they play a role in spreading false information — even unintentionally.

 


Related Reading 

New Study Finds Consumers are Concerned About the Influence of Social Media on News Coverage

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