The internet giant Google wants to take preventive action against misinformation on the internet in Germany as well. To this end, the Google subsidiary Jigsaw is expanding a corresponding video education campaign to the German-speaking Internet. The company announced this in Berlin. So far, preventive activities have focused on Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The campaign is based on studies by psychologists at the British universities of Cambridge and Bristol, who have developed a concept of misinformation prevention (“prebunking”). The aim is to sensitize viewers to the fact that supposedly neutral information is only intended to fool people into thinking something that is not true. One sign of manipulative content is language that touches people emotionally. It is also suspicious if certain groups are held responsible for grievances that they are not responsible for.
Fear helps influence
A video from the campaign, for example, shows three friends meeting and chatting in a pub in the evening. One of them urges her to leave early because she is afraid of being attacked by Ukrainian refugees on the street at night. The other two women reassure their friend and point out that most of the refugees are women and small children. They describe the rumors online as “purescaremongering”. “Some people want to turn us against the Ukrainians who are fleeing the war.
It’s easier to influence people who are afraid of something and divert attention from the real reason the refugees are here.”
The educational videos were viewed by almost a third of the population in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the fall and winter of 2022, said Beth Goldberg, director of research at Jigsaw. In total, they have been viewed more than 37 million times.
Often manipulated videos and images
Goldberg stressed that the main aim of disinformation stories about Ukrainian refugees was to portray Ukrainians as a threat to the health, wealth and identity of EU citizens. “False stories, often involving manipulated videos and images posing as legitimate media, have blamed Ukrainians for the ruthless destruction of property, the spread of disease and severe cuts in Europeans’ living standards, even though the claimed damage never materialised .»