Google To Rollout Anti Disinformation Campaign In Eastern Europe

‘Inoculate’ trial. Campaign to tackle disinformation will be launched next week in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic

Google is to deploy from next week a campaign next week to tackle disinformation in Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic about Ukrainian refugees.

The Google campaign, from Alphabet’s Jigsaw subsidiary, is based on research by psychologists at two British universities, Reuters reported.

It should be remembered that Alphabet created its Jigsaw unit back in early 2016, in an effort to combat some of the most pressing issues affecting our world today using technology.

Inoculate users

At the time of its creation, it was planned that Jigsaw would buy up and invest in breakthrough technology to tackle global challenges such as terrorism and online crime.

Jigsaw had been previously known as Google Ideas, which looked to explore how technology might help people coming online for the first time, particularly in developing markets.

Google Ideas had previously been behind projects such as the Digital Attack Map, which displays the top digital attacks in the world in real time, and Project Shield, which used Google’s computing infrastructure to protect from DDoS attacks.

Now according to Reuters, psychologists from the universities of Cambridge and Bristol have worked with Jigsaw to produce 90-second clips designed to “inoculate” people against harmful content on social media.

The idea is that the video clips will run in advertising slots on YouTube and also on other platforms such as Twitter, TikTok and Facebook. The video clips aim to help people identify emotional manipulation and scapegoating in a news headline.

“If you tell people what’s true and false, a lot of people will dispute … but what you can predict are the techniques that will be used in spreading misinformation, like with the Ukrainian crisis,” Jon Roozenbeek, lead author of a report on the research behind the campaign, was quoted by Reuters as saying in an interview.

The research was spread over seven experiments, including with a group of Americans over 18 years old who watch political news on YouTube.

Jigsaw reportedly exposed around 5.4 million American YouTubers to an inoculation video, with almost a million watching for at least 30 seconds.

Fighting disinformation

The campaign is designed to build resilience to anti-refugee narratives, in partnership with local non-government organisations, fact checkers, academics, and disinformation experts.

The spread of misleading and fake information in the United States and Europe through social media networks has led to various governments pushing for new laws to stem disinformation campaigns.

“We are thinking of this as a pilot experiment, so there’s absolutely no reason that this approach couldn’t be scaled to other countries,” Beth Goldberg, head of research at Jigsaw, was quoted by Reuters as saying in an interview.

“Poland was chosen because it has the most Ukrainian refugees,” she said, adding the Czech Republic and Slovakia would be useful bellwethers for the rest of Europe.

The campaign will run for one month.