This game wants to destabilize a city so you know what misinformation is

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It is not as difficult as it seems that the silence of a small town is disturbed and the chaos is triggered. This shows you a video game called Harmony Square.

That to Play Harmony Square |, you must try to destabilize the city of Harmony Square by misinformation. The game is a research tool developed by psychologists Jon Roozenbeek and Sander van der Linden from Cambridge.

The game has received funding from the US State Department and the Department of Homeland Security and is designed to teach people how to identify misinformation and misinformation online.

The game came at the right time

“If you’re trying to keep track of what’s happening in the US vote, the game will help you learn to identify unsafe and manipulative online content,” said Dr. Jon Roozenbeek, a Cambridge psychologist and lead author of the study.

According to a study of the game published in the Harvard Misinformation Review, players who have gone through the game better understand misinformation and are less likely to share false stories online.

The idea behind the game is the theory of inoculation, ie the idea that understanding how disinformation campaigns work can “vaccinate” a user against them. The method was called pre-bunking.

“By pre-bunking, we aim to stop the spread of false news in the first place,” said Dr. Sander van der Linden, lead author of the study, in a press release.

How do you know what misinformation is through a game?

Harmony Square is a simple game that takes about 10 minutes. Players take control of a declared agent of chaos hired by an obscure organization to disrupt the order of the city for unclear purposes.

“Harmony Square is obsessed with democracy. His three political parties are constantly arguing, and the news journal cannot stop reporting “, the game explained. “The perfect place for an influence campaign.”

The game runs in four rounds as users build an online presence and begin to roam the city and spread misinformation.

Harmony Square goes through stupid and obvious examples of trolling to provoke indignation: exploiting emotional language to create anger and fear, artificially amplifying coverage by robots and fake followers, creating and spreading conspiracy theories and polarizing the public.

According to researchers, the stupid nature of the game is part of this topic, even if it is an echo of real-world misinformation campaigns.

“The game itself is fast, easy and crazy, but the experimental learning it relies on shows that people are more likely to see misinformation and less likely to share it when they connect to Facebook or YouTube,” Roozenbeek said in a statement. a press release.

The game is a psychological experiment

To find out how effective the inoculation method is through play, the researchers divided a randomized group of 681 people into two groups.

Before and after the game, the researchers showed the test participants 16 different posts on social networks.

In total, 8 of these posts were examples of “real” manipulative content found on social media and in fake news articles. The other 8 were posts on the social networks we created “, said the study.

Then both groups played a game. The control group played Tetris, while the other group played Harmony Square.

The researchers asked the participants how real the posts seemed to them. Participants also had to assess their confidence in their judgment and say how likely they would be to share a friend’s post.

According to the study, the group that played Harmony Square shared the fake news at a rate 11% lower than control and was able to identify misinformation 16% more often.

“We found that people who played Harmony Square rated the manipulative posts on social media using the above techniques as being less reliable after playing. They were more confident in their ability to identify such content and, more importantly, were less willing to share it on social media, ”the study concluded.

The state encourages you to play

The State Department and DHS partially funded the study, which involved Harmony Square, as part of a larger effort to effectively educate the public about misinformation.

A previous effort was made by the DHS Cyber ​​Security and Infrastructure Security Agency, which published a leaflet explaining misinformation using controversial pizza toppings – such as pineapple.

“The aftermath of this week’s election day is likely to sum up an explosion of dangerous online falsehoods as tensions peak,” Van der Linden said in a news release.

“False news and online conspiracies will continue to eliminate the democratic process until we take seriously the need to improve digital media literacy among the population. The effectiveness of interventions, such as Harmony Square, is a promising start. “

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