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Free handbook in fight against fake news

An Australian National University academic has joined with 21 global scholars to produce a free handbook designed to help the public combat fake news.

Dr Eryn Newman co-authored Debunking Handbook 2020, which looks at the science behind debunking misinformation as an engaged citizen, policy maker and journalist.

“We know false information and fake news is sticky. We know it travels rapidly on social media,” she said.    

“Debunking 2020 is a collaborative effort from experts in the field, where we take the existing science on misinformation and translate that into how we can combat it effectively.” 

Authors of the free resource hope the timing of the release will help to show how misinformation can have consequences for public health, and democracy.

They say the handbook helps to educate readers in the possible misleading strategies of fake news, in order for them to build their resilience against it.

“The book describes how we can combat misinformation and fake news through intensive debunking or inoculating people against misleading information before it is encountered,” Dr Newman said. 

“Cognitive biases that lull us into believing information are insidious and even when we know we are susceptible, it can be difficult to fight them off.”

The handbook includes a quick guide into responding to misinformation, including understanding how misinformation can do damage, why it is “sticky” and how to prevent it from sticking.

The book also explains another technique, debunking often and properly, stating that an effective debunking of information has the power to identify why it is incorrect and what is true.

Dr Newman also co-editedThe Psychology of Fake News earlier this year, looking at the science behind why misinformation can be hard to decipher.

The handbook is available to read for free online, in a collaborative effort from scholars using science surrounding fake news for practical use.

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