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Disinformation and Media Literacy

Our Disinformation and Media Literacy SIG is a community of scholars and practitioners committed to exploring and advancing proactive and creative interventions against disinformation and ‘fake news’.

Drawing together experts across a range of disciplines, it seeks to bring cutting-edge research to bear on contemporary policy discussions and to foster closer collaboration in the sphere of ‘fake news’ and information literacy between technicians, scholars, policymakers and stakeholders in journalism, education, business and diplomacy. It is convened by Dr Rory Finnin (Slavonic Studies) and Dr Sander van der Linden (Social Psychology). 

The Disinformation and Media Literary SIG has emerged out of work and outreach conducted by the Cambridge Ukrainian Studies centre, founded by Dr Finnin, and the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab, directed by Dr van der Linden.

In 2014, Dr Finnin organised the international conference Ukraine and the Global Information War, which brought together journalists and civil society advocates to warn of the social media-ization of ‘fake news’. Together with Dr Vsevolod Samokhvalov in Brussels, he has since engaged with EU Stratcom East and civil society initiatives across Europe to help promote creative, unconventional means to combat disinformation and foster ‘information literacy’ among online readers, viewers and consumers.

An example of the interdisciplinary collaboration inspiring the SIG has been the work of the Dutch media collective DROG and Jon Roozenbeek – PhD candidate in the Ukrainian Studies programme and research affiliate in the Department of Psychology – in the development of a popular online ‘Fake News’ game, which seeks to ‘inoculate’ players against online disinformation.

The scientific basis of the game draws on social psychological theories developed by Dr van der Linden’s Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab, which explores the social and cognitive psychological processes underlying human social judgment, communication, and decision-making. The ‘Fake News’ game is now being expanded and translated into Russian, Arabic, and at least ten other languages, with funding support from WhatsApp/FB, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, ESRC, and other collaborators, including the Behavioural Insights Team in the UK and Lebanon. It has resulted in a series of publications by Roozenbeek and van der Linden.

 The SIG is keen to grow an active network of researchers from across social science, humanities, and technical disciplines. To express interest in joining the SIG in Disinformation and Media Literacy, please contact Dr Finnin and Dr van der Linden with a short description of your research.

About us

The Trust & Technology Initiative brings together and drives forward interdisciplinary research from Cambridge and beyond to explore the dynamics of trust and distrust in relation to internet technologies, society and power; to better inform trustworthy design and governance of next generation tech at the research and development stage; and to promote informed, critical, and engaging voices supporting individuals, communities and institutions in light of technology’s increasing pervasiveness in societies.

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