Learn About Fake News With This Web Game

In Bad News, a ten-minute web game by Cambridge social psychology professor Sander van der Linden, you play a devious conspiracy theorist spreading fake news. The point, van der Linden tells Fast Company, is to teach people how disinformation is made and spread.

Screenshot from Bad News

The game isn't exactly a full-blown media-literacy class, but it demonstrates basic principles about disinformation. To gain followers and credibility and win the game, you have to choose your misinformation wisely and package it believably. Bad News rewards you for tactics like blowing real incidents out of proportion and playing on existing biases. It also hints at how our "both sides" media machine lets bad actors transmute a little popularity into unearned "credibility".

If you want more detailed explanations of disinfo tactics like polarisation, exploiting emotions and discrediting opponents, read the game's info sheet (Google Drive link).

Before and after the game, you can take a brief and unchallenging quiz of your ability to detect fake tweets. By giving your answers, you're participating in van der Linden's study, so he can (hopefully) adapt the game to be more effective. So waste a little time for science.

Bad News [Sander van der Linden]


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