(FiveNation.com)- In a joint study published last week, social scientists from Cambridge University and Google reported on experiments they conducted in which they showed people 90-second cartoons in both a lab setting and as ads on YouTube which explained some of the most common manipulation techniques as a way to “inoculate” them against misinformation.
According to the study, the cartoons temporarily raised the subjects’ awareness of common misinformation tactics, including scapegoating and creating a false choice.
Published in the journal Science Advances, the study is part of a broader effort by tech companies, news organizations, and academia to discover new ways to improve so-called “media literacy” since more traditional approaches like fact-checking have failed to counter online misinformation.
The researchers compared the effects of the study to vaccination, explaining that they want to “inoculate” people against the harmful effects of conspiracy theories, propaganda, and other misinformation so they are less likely to fall for it.
The research, which involved nearly 30,000 participants, was so persuasive to Google that the company is adopting the approach in Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic as a way to “pre-bunk” anti-refugee sentiment against the people fleeing Ukraine.
Google said it has no plans to deploy a similar pre-bunking effort in the United States ahead of the November elections. However, the company hasn’t ruled out using it in the lead-up to future US election cycles.
The researchers acknowledged there were drawbacks to the pre-bunking videos, including not knowing how long their “inoculation effect” remains.
If you think this sounds creepy and Orwellian, you’re probably not alone.
What they describe as “pre-bunking” sounds a great deal like “brainwashing.”
And while the researchers claim the cartoons they showed participants were “non-partisan,” it is clear that this attempt to “inoculate” people against supposed “misinformation” is an effort to target those who say anything that runs counter to the establishment narrative.