A short online game in which players are recruited as a “Chief Disinformation Officer,” using tactics such as trolling to sabotage elections in a peaceful town, has been shown to reduce susceptibility to political misinformation in its users.
The free-to-play Harmony Square is released to the public today, along with a study on its effectiveness published in the Harvard Misinformation Review.
It has been created by University of Cambridge psychologists with support from the US Department of State’s Global Engagement Center and Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
The gameplay is based on “inoculation theory”: that exposing people to a weak “dose” of common techniques used to spread fake news allows them to better identify and disregard misinformation when they encounter it in future.
In this case, by understanding how to incite political division in the game using everything from bots and conspiracies to fake