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Royal Holloway academics launch essential anti-misinformation checklist ahead of global elections

Royal Holloway academics launch essential anti-misinformation checklist ahead of global elections

  • Date20 May 2024

A group of academics from Royal Holloway have unveiled new guidance to help empower the public to make informed decisions amidst the fight against misinformation.

Misinformation (1)

The Misinformation MOT is a comprehensive checklist designed to help people critically evaluate contentious content before accepting it as truth. This is fundamental in 2024, when more than four billion people globally are eligible to vote in the year of elections.

Universities are places to challenge, question and learn, and misinformation is making this a more challenging endeavour for students and citizens across the globe. The Misinformation MOT will equip everyone with the guidance necessary to discern fact from fake; helping to ensure everyone has access to accurate information to combat the spread of misinformation and promote a more informed society which is better prepared to utilise new AI technologies.

The Misinformation MOT emphasises that individuals must acknowledge and address their own biases, educate themselves on key subjects such as AI, engage in constructive debates within their communities, and verify the credibility of information sources. These practices collectively contribute to a deeper understanding of whether content is reliable or misinformed.

The Misinformation MOT

  1. Check the source - Anyone can spread misinformation, but some people do so more. When you read or see something surprising, do your own research on the source of information so you can be confident on where it came from before you dig down further into the content.
  2. Validate before sharing - The faster we read or share something, the more likely we are to believe or spread misinformation. Be intentional with what you share and avoid sharing information which you haven’t validated yourself.
  3. Use the tools at your disposal - Lots of organisations including media and social media platforms now offer features like fact checking, allowing you to verify if information is accurate by offering valuable context. Your mind is your strongest asset, so take your time when engaging with any form of digital media and if something seems off or stirs strong emotions, be aware that it could be a tactic to manipulate your response. Always move slowly and with caution.
  4. Consider your bias - We are more susceptible to believing misinformation that supports our existing beliefs. Try to avoid relying on one source or only consuming information that supports your existing views. By diversifying your sources, such as reading news platforms you usually wouldn’t, opens yourself up to differing views, allowing for a more rounded and informed opinion.
  5. Upskill yourself - Take every opportunity to educate yourself on topics such as misinformation, critical thinking, and AI literacy. By exposing yourself to small amounts of misinformation and learning to spot the signs, you can help prevent its spread.
  6. Get your community MOT’d - Share this MOT within your community and be open to sharing your individual views and discussing the issues which are most susceptible to misinformation, to limit its ability to influence your views.

The Misinformation MOT has been developed by academics from the Schools of Law and Social Sciences, Business and Management, and Life Sciences and the Environment at Royal Holloway, University of London. The academics involved are:

This collective action aims to inspire other institutions and sectors to take proactive steps in this debate.

Given this year’s focus on elections, it is crucial to arm voters with the tools needed to make informed decisions, which is what the Misinformation MOT will aim to do. As people search harder for the truth, it equips them with questions to prompt discussions and debates on what they’re reading and hearing, so they can make factually informed decisions.

Professor Mark Fellowes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Academic Strategy, Planning and Resources at Royal Holloway, said: “The Misinformation MOT allows for responsible and informed decision-making, whether making choices that change your future, or your day.

“At Royal Holloway, we understand misinformation is becoming an international and intergenerational issue: especially material that is AI-generated. As we work to create research that matters, we’re glad our academics have collaborated across disciplines to produce this checklist to help equip the next generation with the skills to tackle the problems of tomorrow and uphold the credibility and scrutiny of information.

“We hope resources like our Misinformation MOT can give anyone more confidence in making choices and forming opinions - from voting in the next General Election to shopping on Black Friday.”

The Misinformation MOT remains relevant in all manner of scenarios; from evaluating product reviews and advertisements during significant consumer spending periods, and assessing the trustworthiness of brands, to verifying the credibility of AI-generated content.

Royal Holloway is committed to unlocking interdisciplinary collaboration to achieve outcomes that matter to its students and society. The Misinformation MOT promotes a new, critical way of thinking for everyday decision-makers who are influenced by third parties, such as businesses, governments, or people.

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