Google expands ‘prebunking’ anti-misinformation program | WARC | The Feed
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Google expands ‘prebunking’ anti-misinformation program
Google is set to expand its misinformation inoculation program to Germany, following a trial across Eastern Europe, demonstrating a technique that can help build resilience at scale and across platforms.
Why it matters
Fact checking is easily outpaced by bad actors, and new techniques are needed not only by society but by ad companies, to make sure the advertising they are selling can avoid misinformation.
As 2023 shapes up to be a year in which generative AI turns a corner, with chatbots appearing increasingly across both Microsoft and Google, deeper questions are emerging about what effect misinformation will have on large language models: will it manifest as information (and possibly falsehoods) that are fed into the future of search?
Misinformation is a serious problem across the world. While it is a lot older than the internet, its scale and speed have multiplied with global connectivity to reach a point at which misinformation travels far faster than fact checkers can debunk false claims post hoc.
Google’s prebunking technique takes its thinking from the science of inoculation and was deployed across Eastern Europe. It showed people 90-second videos on various platforms that diminished their ‘bullshit receptivity’ by helping them to identify the following qualities:
- emotionally manipulative language
- false dichotomies
- ad hominem attacks
The initial videos sought to counter misinformation that was spreading about Ukrainian refugees in neighbouring countries that had taken in many of the people fleeing the Russian invasion.
Scalability is inherently easier than story-by-story fact checking, because the technique builds resilience to the tropes of misinformation that are deployed across topics and stories rather than being about one specific topic.
Expanding the technique
Google’s Jigsaw incubator division is leading the expansion of the technique to Germany, the Associated Press reports, while a version in India is also in the works. The expansion is timed to coincide with next week’s Munich Security Conference.
The AP reports that Meta has also embraced some of these techniques.
Like actual vaccines, effectiveness varies, and the effects can wear off. Viewers might occasionally need ‘boosters’ to maintain their resilience.
Meanwhile, dubbing into other languages has suggested a lower effectiveness: the initial project saw greater effectiveness in Poland than in Slovakia, where there was little effect, which might be down to a lack of localization.
Sourced from the Associated Press, WARC
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