Another Mind Blowing Innovation by Cambridge Scientist, who have put hands on Deck.
The appearance of fake news on websites and
social media has inspired scientists to develop
a “vaccine” to immunise people against the
A University of Cambridge study devised
psychological tools to target fact distortion.
Researchers suggest “pre-emptively exposing”
readers to a small “dose” of the
misinformation can help organisations cancel
out bogus claims.
Stories on the US election and Syria are
among those to have caused concern.
“Misinformation can be sticky, spreading and
replicating like a virus,” said the University of
Cambridge study’s lead author Dr Sander van
“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.”
The study, published in the journal Global
Challenges, was conducted as a disguised
More than 2,000 US residents were presented
with two claims about global warming.
The researchers say when presented
consecutively, the influence well-established
facts had on people were cancelled out by
bogus claims made by campaigners.
But when information was combined with
misinformation, in the form of a warning, the
fake news had less resonance.
Fabricated stories alleging the Pope was
backing Donald Trump and his Democratic rival
Hillary Clinton sold weapons to the so-called
Islamic State group were read and shared by
millions of Facebook users during the US
The world’s largest social network later
announced new features to help combat
fabricated news stories, and there is pressure
on Google and Twitter to do more to tackle the
Meanwhile, German officials have reportedly
proposed creating a special government unit to
combat fake news in the run-up to this year’s
general election, while a senior Labour MP only
last week warned that British politics risks
being “infected by the contagion”.
What is fake news?
The deliberate making up of news stories to
fool or entertain is nothing new. But the arrival
of social media has meant real and fictional
stories are now presented in such a similar
way that it can sometimes be difficult to tell
the two apart.
There are hundreds of fake news websites out
there, from those which deliberately imitate
real life newspapers, to government
propaganda sites, and even those which tread
the line between satire and plain
misinformation, sometimes employed to suit