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Yle's "troll factory" game unmasks how fake news spreads via social media

Players learn to wield the tools that trolls use as they seek to influence public opinion.

Troll Factory
Image: Yle News Lab

A game developed by Yle’s News Lab team takes users into the dark underbelly of social media information operations, where likes and shares are hard currency for online trolls looking to sow fear, bias and suspicion.

Titled "Troll Factory", the game aims to promote digital media literacy, especially among people who don’t consume traditional news, and helps social media users understand how they play a role in spreading false information -- even unintentionally.

Players learn to wield the tools that trolls use as they seek to influence public opinion: botnets, paid marketing and internet memes in a realistic mobile setting. This gives them an opportunity to reflect on their real-life choices, and to better understand the consequences of their actions.

Troll Factory combines authentic social media content with game-like simulation that’s personalised based on the user’s choices. Yle News Lab chose the theme – immigration -- based on data-driven background research. Continuing information operations around immigration using fake news, internet memes, conspiracy theories and the polarisation of public discourse are systematic and organised in the U.S. and in Europe.

US tech-focused online publication TechCrunch recently reviewed the game.

Enter the Troll Factory here: http://trollfactory.yle.fi/

Yle News Lab collects direct feedback from users to understand the impact of the game. The team develops new forms of journalism by combining journalism, data science, software development and service design.

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