CAS Initiative on Conspiracy, Misinformation, and the Infodemic
Dis- and misinformation projects, studies and solutions have proliferated over the past five years. But how does one judge the effectiveness of such efforts in the real world? Can they make a dent in the information landscape given the low cost, complex motivations and sophisticated techniques behind persuasion and influence operations?
The NSF-funded Deception Awareness and Resilience Training (DART) project, which was recently awarded an additional $5M, is an interdisciplinary endeavor bringing together experts in psychology, deep fakes, game design, cybersecurity, social engineering and education. Rather than try to solve mis- and disinformation, DART researchers take a step back and focus on better gamification as a way in which to educate people about how a set of basic--yet insidiously effective--online manipulation schemes such as romance scams, IRS phishing and others actually work. Since these scams disproportionately affect the elderly population, the first phase will result in a mobile game designed specifically for senior citizens. Subsequent phases targeting other populations will result in immersive games built in conjunction with partners at a commercial gaming studio.
DART researchers might not solve the issue of disinformation, but they hope DART can help inform, educate, and instruct people on how to equip themselves to deal with it in a safe, fun manner.
Research Scientist and Director of Research Innovation | iSchool