East Europeans will be "inoculated" by Google against misinformation

Users are supposed to become immune to false information on Ukrainian refugees thanks to the ad.

Jigsaw, Google's behavioral tech incubator, has launched a new campaign to "pre-bunk" untrue claims about Ukrainian refugees. The initiative targets audiences in Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic with video clips that inform them about the different psychological tricks that disinformation propagators may use to influence them.

The purpose of the effort appears to be to strengthen people's defenses against incorrect information. It draws inspiration from "inoculation theory" and the reasoning behind vaccination, which involves exposing a person to a virus or, in this case, exposing them to knowledge about disinformation.

"Many people will refute the assertions if you tell them what is true and untrue... However, you can anticipate the methods that would be used to disseminate false information, such as with the Ukrainian situation, according to Jon Roozenbeek, the study's lead author, in an interview with Reuters.

Making audiences "resilient" to anti-refugee messages is the ultimate goal. According to Jigsaw head of research Beth Goldberg, Poland was chosen as the testing site due to its high number of Ukrainian migrants—about 1.5 million have entered the country since February, and the city of Warsaw has seen its population rise by 15% as a result of the influx of refugees. The other two countries were chosen to provide a general idea of how the rest of Europe might respond.

The 90-second videos, which were created with the assistance of psychologists from the universities of Cambridge and Bristol, will be featured in ad slots on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube for a month. They are a component of a larger effort that includes NGOs, fact-checkers, researchers, and "disinformation experts."

Since the novel coronavirus outbreak in 2020, it has become common to reframe the fight against misinformation as a public health emergency. UN organizations like UNESCO and the World Health Organization have issued warnings to audiences cautioning them not to unintentionally become "superspreaders" of an "infodemic" by sharing questionable material.

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