Tag Archives: misinformation

How good at spotting fake news are you? This 2-minute quiz will tell you

[Note from BenIndy Contributor Nathalie Christian: While you may of course go directly to the quiz (with the warning that it takes a while to load), I highly recommend you take the time to review the startling – and deeply troubling – data the quiz has exposed to date. For those who are either very curious or very competitive, I scored 17/20 for veracity discernment, identifying 100% of the fake news headlines, with a distrust score of -3 for being a bit too skeptical and misclassifying real news as fake. Apparently, I scored better than 70% of the US population. Yikes.]

Take the Misinformation Susceptibility Test

‘Very online’ Gen Z and millennials are most vulnerable to fake news 

From the University of Cambridge:

University of Cambridge psychologists have developed the first validated “misinformation susceptibility test.”

The quick two-minute quiz gives a solid indication of how vulnerable a person is to being duped by the kind of fabricated news that is flooding online spaces.

The test, proven to work through a series of experiments involving over 8,000 participants taking place over two years, has been deployed by polling organisation YouGov to determine how susceptible Americans are to fake headlines.

The first survey to use the new 20-point test, called ‘MIST’ by researchers and developed using an early version of ChatGPT, has found that – on average – adult US citizens correctly classified two-thirds (65%) of headlines they were shown as either real or fake.

However, the polling found that younger adults are worse than older adults at identifying false headlines, and that the more time someone spent online recreationally, the less likely they were to be able to tell real news from misinformation.

This runs counter to prevailing public attitudes regarding online misinformation spread, say researchers – that older, less digitally-savvy “boomers” are more likely to be taken in by fake news.

The study presenting the validated MIST is published in the journal Behavior Research Methods, and the polling is released today on the YouGov US website.

Researchers encourage the public to test themselves: https://yourmist.streamlit.app.

Selecting true or false against 20 headlines gives the user a set of scores and a “resilience” ranking that compares them to the wider US population. It takes under two minutes to complete.

“Misinformation is one of the biggest challenges facing democracies in the digital age,” said Prof Sander van der Linden, senior author of the MIST study, and head of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab.

“To understand where and how best to fight misinformation, we need a unified way of measuring susceptibility to fake news. That is what our test provides,” said van der Linden, author of the new book Foolproof.

The Cambridge team developed assessment tools that enabled them to work out the right level and mix of fake and genuine headlines to produce the most reliable results.

Examples of real news came from outlets such as the Pew Research Center and Reuters.

To create false but confusingly credible headlines – similar to misinformation encountered “in the wild” – in an unbiased way, researchers used artificial intelligence: ChatGPT version 2.

“When we needed a set of convincing but false headlines, we turned to GPT technology. The AI generated thousands of fake headlines in a matter of seconds. As researchers dedicated to fighting misinformation, it was eye-opening and alarming,” said Dr Rakoen Maertens, MIST lead author.

However, another recent study by the same team used GPT to produce useful questions for a variety of psychological surveys. “We encourage our fellow psychologists to embrace AI and help steer the technology in beneficial directions,” said MIST co-author Dr Friedrich Götz.

For the MIST, an international committee of misinformation experts whittled down the true and false headline selections. Variations of the survey were then tested extensively in experiments involving thousands of UK and US participants.

The latest YouGov survey saw 1,516 adult US citizens take the MIST in April 2023, and also respond to questions covering demographics, politics and online behaviour.

When it came to age, only 11% of 18-29 year olds got a high score (over 16 headlines correct), while 36% got a low score (10 headlines or under correct). By contrast, 36% of those 65 or older got a high score, while just 9% of older adults got a low score.

Additionally, the longer someone spent online for fun each day, the greater their susceptibility to misinformation, according to the MIST. Some 30% of those spending 0-2 recreation hours online each day got a high score, compared to just 15% of those spending 9 or more hours online.

The survey also analysed channels through which respondents receive their news. The “legacy media” came out top. For example, over 50% of those who got their news from the Associated Press, or NPR, or newer outlets such as Axios, achieved high scores.

Social media had the news audiences most susceptible to misinformation. Some 53% of those who got news from Snapchat received low scores, with just 4% getting high scores. Truth Social was a close second, followed by WhatsApp, TikTok and Instagram.

Democrats performed better than Republicans on the MIST, with 33% of Democrats achieving high scores, compared to just 14% of Republicans. However, almost a quarter of both parties’ followers were in the low-scoring bracket.

Perhaps alarmingly, half of all Americans now say they see what they believe to be misinformation online every day, according to the YouGov poll.

Dr Maertens added: “Younger people increasingly turn to social media to find out about the world, but these channels are awash with misinformation.

“Approaches to media literacy, as well as algorithms and platform design, require an urgent rethink.”

“The MIST will allow us to verify the effectiveness of interventions to tackle fake news. We want to explore why some people are more resilient to misinformation, and what we can learn from them.”

Candidate Terry Scott on Valero’s deceptive flyer

…here we go again.

By Terry Scott, 2022 candidate for City Council, October 28, 2022

I saw this flyer and the first thing I thought was: here we go again. Valero and it’s PAC dumping huge amounts of money to support the same preferred candidates they effectively supported for City Council in 2018. Why would they do that? Why would they want their preferred candidates to be re-elected. Why create a misleading mailer under a new PAC NAME.

We know why.

Valero PAC has every legal right to support whomever they want with or without the candidates permission.

Is it legal, yes as noted.
Is it moral, no it’s not fair.
I had hoped Valero would have
Let Benicians elect Benicians without outside influence and money.

Terry Scott’s half-page ad in the Benicia Herald, October 30, 2022 – click to enlarge.

The BenIndy has endorsed BOTH Terry Scott AND Kari Birdseye.
I am active in Kari’s campaign – more here on the BenIndy

And here’s Kari’s website!

Benicia Mayor blasts deceptive Valero PAC flyer

We gave no permission for them to use our photos in this obvious attempt to confuse voters about whom we support.

By Benicia Mayor Steve Young, October 28, 2022

Benicia Mayor Steve Young

A recent glossy mailer from the Valero PAC sent in support of Christina Strawbridge and Lionel Largaespada could not be more deceptive. It implies that all the members of the Council (who are pictured in the flyer) are supportive of their re-election. The fact is that NONE of the current Council (other than themselves) are supporting them.

Vice Mayor Campbell and I are supporting and endorsing Terry Scott and Kari Birdseye for the two open Council seats, and Trevor Macenski has been neutral. We gave no permission for them to use our photos in this obvious attempt to confuse voters about whom we support.

In 2018, the Valero funded PAC successfully defeated Kari Birdseye and helped elect Largaespada and Strawbridge with a toxic negative campaign against her. In 2020, a similar negative campaign was launched against me in my race against Ms. Strawbridge, but Benicia voters saw through the negative ads and I was elected Mayor.

So far, the flyers sent by the PAC do not target a specific candidate, however they are untruthful and full of misinformation. The flyers themselves are expensive to produce and mail, and this type of spending demonstrates everything that is wrong with this type of PAC’s involvement in small-town elections: unlimited funding; no oversight of truths, exaggerations or lies; and a win-at-all costs mentality.

Terry Scott and Kari Birdseye cannot compete with the Valero PAC’s budget of more than $200.000. The only way they can fight back is through social media, volunteers walking precincts, and word of mouth. If you are supportive of Kari and Terry, please share this and related messaging with as many Benicia voters as you can.

Let’s send Valero another loud and clear message that our community rejects their effort to manipulate our election by electing Terry Scott and Kari Birdseye to the City Council. Perhaps they will finally learn, once and for all, that our City Council cannot be bought.

Enough. Let Benicia voters decide Benicia elections.

Steve Young
Benicia Mayor

More letters, news & links about Kari here on the BenIndy

And best of all – Kari’s website!

Dixon author Kelly James: Enough with COVID misinformation

The county public health department — specifically Bela Matyas — has been feeding the community misinformation…When will the county administration stop being complicit?

Fairfield Reporter Letters, by Kelly James, September 1, 2021
Dr. Bela Matyas, Deputy Director of Health and Social Services, Solano County Health Officer

When is enough, enough?

Over 2,000 new COVID-19 infections in the last couple weeks — primarily due to people going to parties, playing beer pong, and sharing cigarettes? So the infection and subsequent COVID death of the individual in the care facility was the result of their participation in summer parties and frat games? How about all the recent infections among the under 18 age group?

From the onset of the pandemic, the county public health department — specifically Bela Matyas — has been feeding the community misinformation. It began with his assurance to parents that kids were basically immune, continued with his social media video stating that masks weren’t necessary and the virus wouldn’t spread in confined spaces as long as you had a partition to protect you, and now, once again, he is making comments that are misleading and contradicting himself constantly in his public statements.

Until very recently he was still informing the public that COVID was primarily transmitted through droplets expelled by an infected person who coughed or sneezed or by someone touching a surface on which these droplets had settled and then touching their face and so forth. This despite the fact that in recent months the CDC and every other major medical association in the United States and the world had changed their assessment of the modes of transmission (based on lengthy, verifiable medical studies and research) to infections primarily occurring through microparticles which stay suspended in the air when people breath, talk, etc., as well as large droplets expelled when coughing and so forth. These studies are what fueled the initial spring and summer mask advisories made by the CDC. These are the “new information” which Dr. Matyas refuses to acknowledge as it validates the obvious need for indoor masking and contradicts his advisements to the public.

All of this absurdity is laughable from a distance, but for many of us living in Solano County, it’s a nightmare. When is the Solano County Board of Supervisors going to step in and do something? Do they or does anyone for that matter truly believe that every other medical professional, public health department, and health agency in the state is wrong and ours is right?

Solano County has been consistently the last in the state to be proactive and as a result, people have and are dying. We will get shut down again if basic precautions continue to go unheeded or enforced. When will the county administration stop being complicit?

Kelly James/Dixon

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