Perhaps the only thing more annoying than the term ‘fake news’, is the proliferation of what constitutes it.
Thanks to a combination of the ease of publication on social media and the speed at which followers and friends share stories without even bothering to fact-check them, false reporting has become a real problem. Even worse, a lot of the patently untrue ‘news’ stories that make it into circulation are written and promoted by folks who are completely aware that they’re spreading lies to serve their own agendas.
If you’ve ever wanted to examine the motives and methods of ‘fake news’ producers, the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab and media group Drog have created a rather fun game called Bad News to help you out.
Players start as a Twitter account holder with a bad attitude and the goal is to create an empire of misinformation by initially sending out tweets designed to gain followers through stoking anger and confusion. Once players reach a certain number of followers, they can start a blog that fires off ridiculous conspiracy theories while calling the integrity of true news reports into question.
You win the game by gaining a huge audience while destroying the credibility of any critics you have. You lose if your lies are too fantastical for even your followers to believe.
The game gives a rather great insight into how ‘fake news’ (we hate that term) spreads like wildfire and the tactics used by those who stand to profit from it. It’s really worth playing – even if it’s a rather uncomfortable experience – just to become clued up on what to watch for the next time you see a story land in your timeline or feed that seems suspect.
In other news, Donald Trump’s Twitter account has been suspended.
We’re kidding, but that’s how easy it is fake a news story.