Home Consumer Debunking Misinformation Failed. Welcome To ‘Pre-Bunking’

Debunking Misinformation Failed. Welcome To ‘Pre-Bunking’


Election officials and researchers from Arizona to Taiwan are adopting a radical playbook to stop falsehoods about voting before they spread online, amid fears that traditional strategies to battle misinformation are insufficient in a perilous year for democracies around the world.

Modeled after vaccines, these campaigns — dubbed “prebunking” — expose people to weakened doses of misinformation paired with explanations and are aimed at helping the public develop “mental antibodies” to recognize and fend off hoaxes in a heated election year.

In the run-up to next month’s European Union election, for example, Google and partner organizations are blanketing millions of voters with colorful cartoon ads on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram that teach common tactics used to propagate lies and rumors on social media or in email.

Google has no plans to launch such a campaign in the United States, where former president Donald Trump and his allies are spreading falsehoods about widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, laying the groundwork to cast doubt on the results of Trump’s rematch with President Biden in November.

Faith Based Events

Instead, humbler campaigns are springing up in locations across the nation, including Arizona’s Maricopa County, where election officials are enlisting local celebrities such as the Phoenix Suns basketball team to promote voting and explain the procedures.

Federal agencies are encouraging state and local officials to invest in prebunking initiatives, advising officials in an April memo to “build a team of trusted voices to amplify accurate information proactively.”

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