Experts say there may be some simple ways to improve resilience to online misinformation.

Short videos explaining the manipulation techniques commonly found in online misinformation may make people less susceptible to it, according to new research. 

In a recent study, researchers tested whether short videos covering five common logical fallacies and manipulation strategies, such as false dichotomies and emotional language, could improve people's ability to recognise them and discern trustworthy from untrustworthy content. 

When their laboratory trials were replicated in the ‘real world’ through a YouTube ad campaign, people's ability to recognise some of these techniques increased by about 5 per cent on average.

Altogether, the findings suggest that the inoculation videos improved people’s abilities to identify manipulation techniques and appeared to have a larger effect than other existing scalable interventions, such as short text segments that point out ways to spot false news.

Associate Professor Stephen Hill - an expert in the field - says these videos appear to be a good start, but people will still have to keep their guard up. 

“What the research doesn’t tell us is whether improving people’s ability to detect the use of manipulative techniques will reduce the likelihood that their beliefs will be swayed by (or reinforced by) the untrustworthy content of the message,” Dr Hill says. 

“You’d hope that they would, but other research shows that people are often more critical of the quality of arguments for messages that are contrary to their existing beliefs than for those that align with them. 

“The good news is that if inoculation reduces the sharing of misinformation there will be less opportunity for other people to be swayed by it. 

“As is often the case with preventive medicine, the challenge will be to persuade people to get inoculated.”