The (Mis) Information Game: A Social Media Simulator

Research output: Working paperPreprint

Abstract

Given the negative impact reliance on misinformation can have on individuals and society, substantial effort has gone into understanding the factors that influence misinformation belief and propagation. However, despite the rise of social media often being cited as a fundamental driver of misinformation exposure and false beliefs, how people process (mis)information on social-media platforms has been under-investigated. This is partially due to a lack of adaptable and ecologically valid social-media testing paradigms, resulting in an overreliance on survey software and questionnaire-based measures. To provide researchers with a flexible tool to investigate the processing and sharing of (mis)information on social media, this paper presents The Misinformation Game—an easily adaptable, open-source online testing platform that simulates key characteristics of social media. Researchers can customize posts (e.g., headlines, images), source information (e.g., handles, avatars, credibility), and engagement information (e.g., a post’s number of likes and dislikes). The platform allows a range of response options for participants (like, share, dislike, flag) and supports comments. Further, the simulator can provide customized dynamic feedback to participants, via changes to a participant’s follower count and credibility score, based on how they interact with each post. Notably, no specific programming skills are required to use the simulator. Here we outline the key features of the simulator and provide a non-technical guide for use by researchers, including instructions for integrating the simulator into the online survey platform Qualtrics. We also present results from two validation studies. All source code and instructions are freely available online at https://themisinformationgame.github.io/.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherPsyArXiv
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

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