Research, Technology

Inoculation of attitudes: how to recognize fakes in social networks?

With the advent of the digital age, our vision of the worldhas changed: the TV finally hit every home, as, indeed, computers with smartphones. Today, almost every inhabitant of the planet can instantly access the necessary information. But the more we learn, the more difficult it is to understand the truth in front of us or a lie, and especially in social networks. As previous studies have shown, social media contributes to the spread of pseudoscience and disinformation, having a huge impact on the real world. The problem, however, is not technology - our psychological biases and predispositions make us vulnerable to lies. This is especially noticeable when the misinformation is in line with our worldview and what we already believe. Moreover, the brain by default accepts most of the information as reliable - in the end, we tend to believe everything we see and hear. But how to deal with fake news in this case?

The information you share online can spread very quickly, especially if it causes fear or anger.


  • 1 Thinking and disinformation
  • 2 Exposing lies
  • 3 What we do online
  • 4 Inoculation against disinformation

Thinking and disinformation

Our thinking is not perfect.The brain deceives us at every opportunity. Thus, numerous thinking errors (cognitive distortions) go unnoticed, especially when it comes to emotions. We are more likely to believe misinformation that affects us emotionally and ignore the very fact of exposing fakes. It seems crazy, but the results of numerous scientific studies confirm the power of the influence of disinformation on thinking.

Thus, the results of a recently published review of 32scientific studies involving more than 6,500 people have shown that the exposure of false information reduces, but does not eliminate the effect of disinformation. To put it quite simply, a lie does not disappear from our memory despite its refutation, and over time, we forget the real facts, and fakes, on the contrary, remain in memory for a long time.

We remember misinformation better than real facts.

The latter, by the way, plays an important role -when we struggle to remember what information is true and what is not, fakes always seem familiar and plausible to us. The repetition of information also matters - the more often we encounter disinformation, the more likely we will believe it. At the same time, it becomes more and more difficult to expose a lie every time, especially when it comes to the finally formed picture of the world.

More on the topic: The era of total distrust. Why does society reject science?

Exposing the lies

The danger of fake news showed better than othersCOVID-19 pandemic. The constant speculation about its laboratory origin, distrust of scientists and fear of vaccination spread on social media at lightning speed (and still spreads). Given the scale of what is happening, governments around the world and IT corporations have come to grips with disinformation online. True, modern methods are not without flaws and often create tension among users.

Researchers also point to dubiousthe effectiveness of the regulation of fakes adopted by the leadership of such online platforms as Facebook, TikTok and Twitter. It turned out that the efforts made contribute to the spread of fake news: it is believed that users are not able to distinguish truth from lies, which means they need help.

We are surrounded by an endless stream of information, the reliability of which is not so easy to verify.

During the study, we saw that people are veryare attentive to the content and try to help each other. However, such efforts are not supported by the leadership of online platforms, the authors of the meta-analysis conclude.

Recall that major media platforms, includingGoogle, Facebook, and YouTube use a fact-checking algorithm to flag and label questionable content. At the same time, platforms are engaged in the promotion of reliable information, but the effectiveness of this approach is questionable. Fortunately, the results of a new review show that the most effective way to combat fake news is to preliminary informing users - a kind of "vaccination against disinformation." This approach, according to the researchers, will help to retain reliable information in memory. But first things first.

Read even more interesting articles about the latest discoveries in the field of science and high technology on our channel in Yandex.Zen - articles that are not on the site are regularly published there.

What do we do online

Since the problem of disinformation is negativelyaffects the general public, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MTI) have created a prototype social media platform. Thus, the experts wanted to study how giving users more freedom of action will affect the spread of fakes.

Will users of social networks be able to independently assess the authenticity of content? And will a new approach help fight disinformation?

At the beginning of the study, the researchers interviewed subjectsabout how they fight misinformation online. Then, based on the responses received, the authors of the work developed a prototype of an online platform that allows users to independently evaluate the quality of content. It turned out that people are well aware of social media misinformation and actively fight against it, in parallel, fearing that their assessments may be misinterpreted.

This means that even when disinformationobvious, it is impossible to keep track of it and reach out to everyone who has encountered it. In addition, not everyone has the habit of checking facts, the authors of the scientific work note.

False information can cause many troubles

The prototype of the developed platform calledTrustnet (similar to Facebook) allowed users to follow each other and share information in order to view the published content. However, before publishing a post on Trustnet, users must independently evaluate the reliability of the published content by applying filters to customize the news feed (depending on how and by whom the publications were evaluated).

Вам будет интересно: Как распространяется дезинформация и как ей противостоять?

A total of 14 people took part in the experiment.who used the new platform for a week. The results showed that users liked Trustnet, as it allowed them to rate the credibility of content, as well as indicate sources they trust. For example, some users found it difficult to assess the authenticity of the content - fake publications contained a number of true and false statements, and their evaluation took longer.

The researchers also recommend looking for the original source of the content.

Although the results of the meta-analysis showed thatusers of online platforms can effectively deal with disinformation, the researchers note that the approach they proposed is not a panacea and can drive users into a comfortable “information bubble”.

Read more about the reasons for trusting fake news here, don't miss it!

Vaccine against disinformation

Given the extent of disinformation andfake news, scientists are paying more and more attention to this problem (as, indeed, the government). Among the possible ways to expose fakes on social networks, the researchers turned to the so-called “psychological setting”, an idea that was proposed by the American sociologist William McGuire 60 years ago.

Grafting installations - a psychological method that enhances a person's confidence in their own principles and the development of a strategy for psychological resistance to unreliable information.

UN experts remind that each of us can contribute to Internet security and stop the spread of misinformation

In the end, in this unequal struggle, everyonefunds are good. Thus, the habit of checking the facts saves us from reckless actions; debunking fakes in the social media feed also works great (you can read more here and here), and the so-called inoculation of attitudes develops critical thinking, without which in the modern world it is possible, but clearly not worth it. How do you deal with disinformation? The answer, as always, will be waiting here, as well as in the comments to this article!