A chatbot-enabled website designed to tackle misinformation surrounding COVID-19 has been launched.
The platform has been designed by experts in computational communication at the Universities of Liverpool and Dundee.
The Fake News Immunity Chatbot brings classical philosophers Aristotle, Socrates and Gorgias to life on the computer screen, introducing users to their rhetorical strategies, or fallacies, as well as testing the user’s susceptibility to a selection of fake and semi-fake news items.
The chatbot is a quiz-like game designed to help people through misinformation currently circulating around COVID-19.
Project lead Dr Elena Musi said: “This is the first attempt to leverage human computer interaction to try and help the public acquire the skills needed to recognise the grey area of misinformation.
“Our chatbot is unique as it allows people to play and be trained by the greatest thinkers and become their own fact-checkers. You can play by yourself or encourage family, friends or colleagues to join in so you can quiz each other.
“Learning together and helping each other to understand how news is produced for different purposes provides the necessary skills needed to flag misleading content in our news feeds.”
Users choose an identity and are then guided through a discourse with the three philosophers as each teaches their rhetoric speciality: Aristotle explains the ten fallacies, Socrates encourages the need to question everything and Gorgias challenges mainstream opinions.
News items are offered up, and users are asked to determine whether they are misleading, and why, with the support of the three philosophers and their critical thinking techniques.
The game has three levels – credulous, skeptic and agnostic – with users competing to pick up points.
Musi added: “We hope that with our chatbot, people will develop critical thinking that strengthens their digital literacy and helps them and their communities to become more resilient to information manipulation.”