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Vaccinating Against Misinformation

Just as there are vaccines against viruses, there is a vaccine against viral misinformation that tries to mislead us with persuasion techniques.

The more we learn about misinformation and disinformation techniques, such as persuasive arguments and manipulated images, the better we can avoid being fooled. This concept is called inoculation.

The key ingredient to inoculation is pre-bunking. Pre-bunking involves education so that we can take a proactive approach to expecting that we’ll run into some shenanigans online and we will know it when you see it, and not share it, and not boost it with comments or likes.

Media literacy and news media literacy education support the concept of pre-bunking – that is, learning the tricks of the tricksters to avoid being tricked. (Got that?!)

“Inoculation rests on the idea that if people are forewarned that they might be misinformed and are exposed to weakened examples of the ways in which they might be misled, they will become more immune to misinformation.”

So write Stephan Lewandowsky and Sander van der Linden (2021). The pair have reported on the success of inoculation in several studies.

“Over the last 50 years, a large body of evidence across domains—from health to political campaigning—has revealed that inoculation messages can be effective at conferring resistance to persuasion.”

The Wonder Media Library Extension website and activities are part of this inoculation solution.

Source: Lewandowsky, S., & Van Der Linden, S. (2021). Countering Misinformation and Fake News Through Inoculation and Prebunking. European Review of Social Psychology, 32(2), 348-384.

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