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Nobody is safe from the pull of “fake news”. Even those who should be most informed (looking at you, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille) have fallen prey to those profiting off the spread of disinformation.
But there is hope for anyone looking to become better fact checkers, and some of that hope can be found in online games designed to teach you how the disinformation industry works. Here are three to get you started.
Factitious is the simplest of the bunch. It shows you a news article with a hidden source and asks you to guess whether it’s real or fake.
After making your decision, the game will give a short pop-up highlighting aspects of the article that hint to its validity or lack thereof (like the source or the fact that no names were mentioned).
The game was created by the American University JoLT team, and has both a quick and full game, depending on how much time you have (and if you want to hand over your email).
Where Factitious treats you as a reader, Bad News takes you behind the scenes and into the mind of a fake news distributor.
The quick game is narrated by a cheeky third party narrator who encourages you to forget your morals and profit off fear. The purpose is to gain the largest online following by choosing which multiple choice options that will incite the most anger.
The real point of Bad News is to remind you that fake news relies on evoking strong emotions so that you act immediately without checking the facts, but it also gives you insight into spotting bots and liars more efficiently.
Fake It to Make It also takes you behind the scenes at a fake news factory, but it offers a far more complex — and stressful — gameplay.
In Fake It, you become the founder of a fake news site, in control of everything from revenue model to articles to social media presence. You can copy articles or write your own, finding a neat balance between believability and drama.
You objective is to make the most money. All that matters? Leave your ethics at the door.