Day 6

Can you tell the difference? An online game teaches players about disinformation by letting them create it

The Bad News game was created by a group of researchers from Cambridge University. It teaches people how to spot fake news by having players impersonate politicians, peddle conspiracy theories and fabricate news stories.

'They based the game on real-life strategies that they saw by fake news disseminators'

Players of the online game called Bad News can use different tactics — such as stoking fears or playing on polarization — to build credibility and attract more followers, which earns them badges. (Screengrab/Bad News)

A video of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau allegedly being snubbed by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro at a meeting of the world leaders made the rounds on social media this week.

In the clip, Bolsonaro appears to ignore Trudeau's outstretched hand and turn his back to the Canadian leader during last month's G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

Shortly after the footage surfaced, a longer video emerged showing that Bolsonaro and Trudeau did, in fact, shake hands after the president acknowledged a colleague seated to his left.

With misleading — and some times downright fake — videos like this floating around the internet, it can be a challenge to sift through what's accurate and what's untrue.

That's why researchers at the University of Cambridge have created an online game, dubbed Bad News, to teach players about fake news — by creating their own.

"It's giving you a chance to play the bad guy, which is always fun," said Kaleigh Rogers, CBC News' senior reporter on disinformation, who wrote about her experiences with the game.

"They based the game on real-life strategies that they saw by fake news disseminators," she told Day 6 guest host Peter Armstrong.

The game allows you to impersonate a famous person or create your own news site in an effort to sow discord online. 

As you progress, you gain or lose followers and credibility based on your choices. Players are also given explanations about how their actions shape perspectives. The more followers and credibility that players build, the more successful their campaign is.

A study released earlier this week found the game is successfully teaching players how to spot and resist disinformation.

To hear Rogers and Armstrong play the game, click 'Listen' above or download our podcast.


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