Google will run ads educating users about disinformation techniques

Google will run ads on various platforms to educate users about disinformation techniques based on evidence. This initiative aims to enhance people’s ability to recognize manipulative content and will be piloted in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland. Research showed that these educational ads can improve individuals’ skills in spotting disinformation, distinguishing trustworthy content, and making informed decisions about sharing. The project, conducted with Google Jigsaw, focuses on prebunking to debunk disinformation before individuals are exposed to it. The results will be published in the journal Science Advances.

Google plans to launch an evidence-based strategy to educate people about disinformation techniques, following recent research developments. Google Jigsaw, which tackles online security dangers, will run ads on YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook that have been shown to improve people’s ability to recognise manipulative content. These strategies will be piloted in Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Poland to combat fake news about Ukrainian refugees. This policy is based on recent research results on the topic of “prebunking”, which investigates how disinformation can be debunked by showing people how it works – before they are exposed to it.

In the experiment, a series of prebunking ads were shown to 5.4 million people, 22,000 of whom were surveyed afterwards. After watching the explanatory videos, researchers found an improvement in respondents’ ability to spot disinformation techniques, an increased ability to discern trustworthy from untrustworthy content and an improved ability to decide whether or not to share content. The peer-reviewed research was conducted in conjunction with Google, which owns YouTube, and will be published in the journal Science Advances.