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  • Your town is holding a mayoral election and the stakes have never been higher:

  • the outcome will decide the fate of a local movement

  • to rely on 100% renewable energy.

  • One mayoral nominee, Joanna B. Greene, is a champion of this movement,

  • while the other, Stannis Quo, staunchly opposes it.

  • He's announced he'll use whatever tactics are necessary to win the election.

  • As the municipal cybersecurity expert, you're on high alert.

  • Election day is near and you suspect that Quo

  • will begin pushing false information to swing the election in his favor.

  • Your job is to inoculate the townspeople against false information

  • before the election.

  • One of the most effective ways to tackle disinformation

  • is to encourage people to think about the strategies

  • used by those who create and spread it.

  • This might seem counter-intuitiveand potentially dangerous

  • but as long as you don't create a “how-to manual,”

  • active inoculation is an effective option.

  • A study conducted in 2019 used an online game to train people

  • to think like a disinformation producer.

  • When the participants were next shown the disinformation,

  • their perception of its reliability dropped significantly.

  • But before you can teach your own townspeople,

  • you need to figure it out for yourself.

  • What strategies would you employ if you were Stannis Quo?

  • In order to launch a successful disinformation campaign,

  • you must use evocative, and convincing content that will spread quickly

  • and create confusion.

  • It'll also help to take advantage of confirmation bias.

  • People are intuitively more inclined to believe information

  • that supports a worldview they already have.

  • Many young voters in your town are in favor

  • of transitioning to renewable energy and sympathize with Greene.

  • Rather than trying to change their minds,

  • Quo will likely focus on suppressing the youth vote.

  • If you were him, how would you start?

  • You might create fake user accounts to spread disinformation

  • on popular social media platforms.

  • You could even make one that impersonates a trusted figure.

  • From these accounts, you can deliver highly shareable, engaging visual content,

  • like memes relating to the imminent election.

  • That's how you would like to go about spreading disinformation,

  • but what kind of disinformation would be effective

  • in manipulating young Greene supporters?

  • First, you could direct people to vote via text, a webpage, or an app,

  • none of which are viable voting platforms in your town.

  • The claim isn't too far-fetched.

  • An encrypted digital platform could actually seem safer to young people

  • than the traditional ballot system.

  • Perhaps you could also tell them that the voting day

  • is one day after it actually is.

  • You could then pair this approach with a more emotion-driven one.

  • How about vilifying Greene and appealing to the young voters' values?

  • You want to share information that taps into people's sense of civic duty

  • and makes them feel that the election depends on their sharing it

  • as widely as possible.

  • Your fake accounts could circulate false accusations that Greene takes money

  • from local, somehow corrupt renewable energy facilities;

  • treats her staff poorly; or abuses stray kittens for fun.

  • These inflammatory claims could lead people to question

  • Greene's integrity as a leader and even initiate further conspiracy theories.

  • After you've introduced these disinformation campaigns,

  • your fake users should keep repeating them so they stick in people's minds.

  • Finally, media coverage would further spread your claims

  • and give them perceived legitimacy.

  • You could message a few local journalists

  • asking whether these rumors are true and express your concerns.

  • By the time an article comes out debunking the rumors,

  • people's experiences of the truth will have become so warped

  • that convincing them otherwise will be difficult.

  • A disinformation campaign like this would pit citizens against one another

  • and exploit their values and fears.

  • You can't personally protect each individual from disinformation,

  • but you can equip them with the insights you have

  • and encourage them to pass these tools further along.

  • After all, community organizing is what elections often call for.

Your town is holding a mayoral election and the stakes have never been higher:

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B1 disinformation greene election renewable energy renewable stannis

Can you outsmart a troll (by thinking like one)? - Claire Wardle

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/29
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