100 Ways To Slightly Improve Your Life Without Really Trying

Whether it’s taking fruit to work (and to the bedroom!), being polite to rude strangers or taking up skinny-dipping, here’s a century of ways to make life better, with little effort involved …

1 Exercise on a Monday night (nothing fun happens on a Monday night).

2 On the fence about a purchase? Wait 72 hours before you buy it.

3 Tip: the quickest supermarket queue is always behind the fullest trolley (greeting, paying and packing take longer than you think).

4 Bring fruit to work. Bring fruit to bed!

5 Consider going down to four days a week. It’s likely a disproportionate amount of your fifth day’s work is taxed anyway, so you’ll lose way less than a fifth of your take-home pay.

6 Everyone has an emotional blind spot when they fight. Work out what yours is, and remember it.

7 Plant spring bulbs, even if they’re just in a pot.

8 Send a voice note instead of a text; they sound like personal mini podcasts.

9 Keep a bird feeder by a window, ideally the kitchen. It’ll pass the time when you’re washing up.

10 Always bring ice to house parties (there’s never enough).

11 Get the lighting right: turn off the overhead one, turn on lots of lamps (but turn off when you leave the room).

12 Sharpen your knives.

13 Feeling sluggish at work? Try the Pomodoro technique: 25 minutes on, five-minute break, and repeat.

14 Buy a cheap blender and use it to finely chop onions (it saves on time and tears).

15 Keep your children’s drawings and paintings. Put the best ones in frames.

16 Set aside 10 minutes a day to do something you really enjoy – be it reading a book or playing Halo.

17 Don’t be weird about how to stack the dishwasher.

18 Reuse all plastic bags – even bread bags. Much of the packaging you can’t reuse can be taken to larger branches of supermarkets for recycling.

19 Take a photo of the tag you are given when leaving your coat in a cloakroom.

20 Can’t sleep? Try a relaxing soak with lavender bath oil before bed.

21 Add the milk at least one minute after the tea has brewed.

22 Laugh shamelessly at your own jokes.

23 It might sound obvious, but a pint of water before bed after a big night avoids a clanger of a hanger.

24 Start a Saturday morning with some classical music – it sets the tone for a calm weekend.

25 Look closely.

26 Set time limits for your apps. Just go to the settings on your smartphone and add a limit – for example, if you have an iPhone turn on Screen Time.

27 If possible, take the stairs.

28 Always be willing to miss the next train.

29 Eat meat once a week, max. Ideally less.

30 Be polite to rude strangers – it’s oddly thrilling.

31 Ask questions, and listen to the answers.

32 Connect with nature: stand outside barefoot for a few minutes – even when it’s cold.

33 Join your local library – and use it. Find yours here.

34 Go for a walk without your phone.

35 Eat salted butter (life’s too short for unsalted).

36 Stretch in the morning. And maybe in the evening.

37 If you’re going less than a mile, walk or cycle. About half of car journeys are under two miles, yet these create more pollution than longer journeys as the engine isn’t warmed up yet.

38 Sleep with your phone in a different room (and buy an alarm clock).

39 Send postcards from your holidays. Send them even if you’re not on holiday.

40 Instead of buying new shoes, get old ones resoled and buy new laces.

41 Buy a plant. Think you’ll kill it? Buy a fake one.

42 Don’t have Twitter on your phone.

43 If you find an item of clothing you love and are certain you will wear for ever, buy three.

44 Try taking a cold shower (30 seconds to two minutes) before your hot one. It’s good for your health – both physical and mental.

45 Text to say thank you.

46 Read a poem every day. Keep a compendium, such as A Poem for Every Day of the Year, by your bed.

47 Take out your headphones when walking – listen to the world.

48 Buy secondhand.

49 Buy in person!

50 Learn how to floss properly.

51 If something in the world is making you angry, write (politely) to your MP – they will read it.

52 Say hello to your neighbours.

53 Learn the basics of repairing your clothes.

54 Always bring something – wine, flowers – to a dinner/birthday party, even if they say not to.

55 Learn the names of 10 trees.

56 Call an old friend out of the blue.

57 Every so often, search your email for the word “unsubscribe” and then use it on as many as you can.

58 Buy a newspaper. (Ideally this one.)

59 Always have dessert.

60 Drop your shoulders.

61 Make something from scratch. Works best if it’s something you’d normally buy, such as a dress or a bag.

62 Go to bed earlier – but don’t take your phone with you.

63 Volunteer. ​​Go to gov.uk/government/get-involved for ideas.

64 Dry your cutlery with a cloth (it keeps it shiny).

65 Instead of buying a morning coffee, set up a daily transfer of £2 from a current into a savings account and forget about it. Use it to treat yourself to something different later.

66 Don’t save things for “best”. Wear them – enjoy them.

67 Sing!

68 Think about your posture: don’t slouch, and don’t cross your legs.

69 Hang your clothes up. Ideally on non-wire hangers (it’s better for them).

70 Skinny-dip with friends.

71 Switch your phone off on holiday (or at least delete your work email app).

72 Always use freshly ground pepper.

73 Thank a teacher who changed your life.

74 Respect your youngers.

75 Keep your keys in the same place.

76 Ditch the plastic cartons and find a milkman – The Modern Milkman has a comprehensive list.

77 Rent rather than buy a suit/dress for that forthcoming wedding (even if it’s your own).

78 Always book an extra day off after a holiday.

79 Ignore the algorithm – listen to music outside your usual taste.

80 Mute or leave a WhatsApp group chat.

81 Learn a TikTok dance (but don’t post it on TikTok).

82 Cook something you’ve never attempted before.

83 Join a local litter-picking group.

84 Handwash that thing you’ve never cleaned.

85 Don’t get a pet/do get a pet.

86 Nap.

87 Learn how to breathe deeply: in through the nose, out through the mouth, making the exhale longer than the inhale.

88 Buy a bike and use it. Learn how to fix it, too.

89 Politely decline invitations if you don’t want to go.

90 If you do go, have an exit strategy (can we recommend a French exit, where you slip out unseen).

91 If in doubt, add cheese.

92 Don’t look at your phone at dinner.

93 Do that one thing you’ve been putting off.

94 Give compliments widely and freely.

95 Set up an affordable standing order to a charity. RNLI and Greenpeace spring to mind …

96 Keep a book in your bag to avoid the temptation to doomscroll.

97 Listen to the albums you loved as a teenager.

98 Make a friend from a different generation.

99 Staying over at a friend’s place? Strip the bed in the morning.

100 For instant cheer, wear yellow.

This article was inspired by a similar exercise in Weekend magazine in January 2000. See the original list at theguardian.com/100-tips-from-2000

This article was amended on 2 January 2022 to remove advice in point 23 that is not applicable in all circumstances.

By: The Saturday Magazine Team

Source: 100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying | Life and style | The Guardian

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Influencers Are Utilizing Collaboration To Win Against AI Algorithms; Here’s How

Visitors use their mobile devices to take pictures of themselves posing in a pink ball bath at the ... [+]DPA/AFP via Getty Images

It’s normal to hear the cliche, two are better than one, but this statement has been proven true among influencers in the last five years. Growing followership and influence on social media is not an easy feat, and with changing algorithms, it’s even more difficult.

Social media has become the top cultural influence on society. More people, especially Gen Z and Millennial generations, depend on social media platforms for their information, advice, and counsel, especially as regards lifestyle and fashion choices. This reality has placed social media influencers on a pedestal as some of the most relevant figures in modern culture.

The biggest question that influencers and aspiring influencers have to answer consistently is, “Can we still grow a healthy following organically in the age of changing algorithms?”

Renowned supermodel Stefanie Gurzanski seems to think that this is possible. In her words, “Value is king, the first step to doing it organically is finding your audience and determining what they consider as value. Then you have to create content around that and dish it out consistently. When all is said and done, you need help from others as well.”

As a supermodel, Stefanie Gurzanski, who is more popularly known as Baby G, has featured on the cover of some of the world’s most prestigious magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Elle. She has also stunned at many of the world’s most prestigious fashion shows and red carpets.

However, one of her most significant accomplishments has been turning that success into a digital media empire and becoming an Instagram influencer with millions of extremely loyal followers. Stefanie believes that collaboration is one of the most powerful keys to growing followership in a world where algorithms are becoming more demanding. In this article, Stefanie shares why she thinks collaboration is so important.

According to Instagram, the main rule about Instagram algorithms is that not one but many algorithms influence a user’s Instagram experience. Different AI algorithms analyze user behavior on the different parts of the app; reels, feeds, and explore. All these algorithms work together to determine what we see or not see on Instagram.

The Instagram model is more or less the same on Facebook, Titok, and youtube, where various AI algorithms are used to achieve these exact results.

According to Stefanie, “Instagram has been a bit more transparent about how their algorithms function and this has helped influencers build systems around their brands that help them get the most out of the platform. What I have found is that the key ingredient that enables us to get the best out of all the algorithms is collaboration.”

Adam Mosseri has taken his time to summarize how the Instagram algorithm functions in a post. Four key factors influence the Instagram algorithm for feed posts.

  • First, the algorithm considers the basic information about the post; Is it a photo or a video? When was it posted? How many likes does it have?
  • Secondly, it considers the information about the poster; How interesting does the user find them to be? How often does the user engage with their content?
  • The third factor is the user’s activity; is the user a heavy video-watcher, or does the user prefer other kinds of content?
  • The final factor is the user’s interaction history; does the user typically engage with the poster’s posts by liking or commenting?

In summary, on Instagram feeds, the algorithm would typically show a user posts from creators who create the kind of content they typically engage with, and who they have previously engaged with or tend to engage with frequently.  On reels and explore, Instagram goes further by showing users the content they think they will like based on their previous activity.

Stefanie explains it with a more straightforward example; “I am coming up on the two million followers mark and one thing that is readily noticeable is that many of these followers found me because they initially followed other supermodels who do what I do.

Likewise, when my followers consistently engage with my pictures and videos, they are also likely to see posts from similar creators who do what I do on their explore page or their reels. Now imagine what we can achieve as influencers if we become more intentional about giving and getting this exposure. The results are simply stunning.”

Collaboration as a Powerful Tool For Exposure

Since 2016, when Instagram made these changes to its algorithm, collaboration has become perhaps the most effective tool for exposure.  Creators collaborate in different ways, but the end goal is the same, and the results are similar.

Live broadcasts by Sponsored Influencers have become a thing. 82% of audiences prefer live video from influencers and brands to other generic content, which has made live videos both the present and the future of video content.

Since Instagram launched its new feature, which enables creators and users to go live with a friend remotely, influencers have used this feature to invite other creators on their platform for live broadcasts. Content ranges from talk shows to casual conversations, and the results have been favorable so far.

“Live videos have such an engagement boosting effect,” Stefanie explains. “The algorithms give live videos more exposure, so when influencers can link up via this feature, it helps the algorithm make the connection between their two sets of audiences. This can easily grow the platforms of both influencers by exposing them to new audiences.”

Hosting Account takeovers is another powerful collaborative tool that creators use to force the algorithm to give more exposure to their content.  An account takeover is a strategy where an influencer can surrender their account to another influencer for some time, either by posting only content from that influencer or giving the influencer access to their platforms to post directly.

The basic idea is to create a feeling that that influencer is in charge for that period. This is a powerful way that influencers use to expose their work and brands to other influencers’ audiences. The results are usually remarkable as the algorithm is forced to make that connection.

Collaborating with Aspiring Influencers is also becoming more popular. Stefanie recently launched the Baby G Mag, a subscription-based platform where other creatives can be featured and grow their own platforms. She explains why she thinks this strategy is helpful; “With all the algorithm changes, it has become difficult to grow organically today than it was a few years ago.

So, I built Baby G Mag specifically for other girls who want to grow their brand, make money, and can be seen by a guaranteed amount of paying customers. Right now we are collating with other magazines as well. Playboy Mexico has already seen us as an interesting platform to collaborate with in just our first few weeks.”

While many influencers are looking to connect with influencers with bigger platforms, Stefanie realizes that collaborating with up-and-coming influencers is a win-win. It exposes her to new audiences as these smaller influencers usually have a smaller but fiercely loyal audience. It is also her way of helping these influencers grow faster and gain more influence.

User-Generated Content (UGC) is also becoming stronger among influencers. 85% of users find visual UGC more influential than brand photos or videos. It also drives 6.9-times-higher engagement than generic content.

UGC is a form of collaboration that Influencers build with their followers. This is effective because followers tend to engage with UGCs at a higher rate. Since the algorithm gives more exposure to posts and platforms with more engagement, the Influencer’s platforms usually get seen way more. It’s a win-win for most influencers.

Influencer Pods are becoming robust as well. Some influencers have decided that the best way to link their audiences is to create pods of influencers. These pods usually have 10-15 influencers from within their industry who engage authentically with each other’s content; they share, like, and leave thoughtful comments on their most recent posts.

Many see pods as a way to skew the system and game the algorithm, but so far, no social media platform has cracked down on them yet. Stefanie believes that collaboration in whatever shape or form it comes is the key to consistent growth as influencers;

“In my case, my fame didn’t necessarily come from social media, but I have been able to maintain it on social media by continuing with the things I became famous for. My merchandise, my videos, and my photos are what people value about my brand, and so I remain consistent.

However, I also believe that helping others rise has helped me rise even more. Collaboration will probably always be a successful route to go even if the algorithms change again, because it is at the heart of what social media is trying to do, which is to connect people and to help people discover other relevant people. It’s a silver bullet by every standard.”

Stefanie’s points are valid; at the heart of most social media platforms is a desire to connect people and increase engagement. Their money-making structures are built around these same values. So it is likely that finding valuable ways to collaborate will always win in the end, and It’s difficult to have any problems with it whatsoever.

Annie Brown is the founder of Lips, a feminist technology organization at the forefront of the inclusive design movement, building products

Source: Influencers Are Utilizing Collaboration To Win Against AI Algorithms; Here’s How

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Multilevel Marketing and The Rise of Anti MLM YouTube

For decades, multilevel-marketing companies had it easy. Cutco knives, Tupperware containers, and Pampered Chef bread mixes were inoffensive products sold at weeknight wine parties and, later, in themed Facebook groups. For the most part, they were an unremarkable part of women’s lives.

Multilevel marketing—a form of direct selling in which a major chunk of a person’s income comes not from the sales they make themselves but from the sales made by people they recruit into the company—was often regarded as exploitative by consumer advocates, but it rarely encountered a serious threat.

During the pandemic, distributors for many MLM companies have used this lack of pushback to their advantage: On Instagram and Facebook, women have tried to persuade their followers to use their stimulus checks to join a company that sells shampoo or weight-loss products. They have used economic collapse as a recruitment tool, offering MLMs as the solution to lost income and increased precarity.

For Heather Rainbow, a 20-year-old chemistry student, these appeals were a wake-up call. In May, she made her first anti-MLM TikTok video, green-screening herself in front of what she claims is the 2018 income-disclosure statement for the hair-care company Monat, which shows that 94 percent of its distributors had an average income of $183 that year. She now considers herself something of a consumer advocate and misinformation combatant, posting about companies such as Cutco, Younique, Arbonne, and Lipsense to her 113,00 followers.

“That was my first TikTok to really get views,” she told me. “I had no idea that people on TikTok would be so receptive to the anti-MLM message.” (I reached out to several of the companies named in this article, and most, including Monat, did not respond to my requests for comment. A spokesperson for Arbonne told me in an email that regulators “have recognized the legitimacy of multi-level marketing for decades.”)

The same social networks that multilevel-marketing distributors are called upon to exploit—their friends, their family, their followers, their “mutuals”—are now the social networks through which women are pushing out a completely different message. (Though men participate in multilevel marketing as well, they do so in much smaller numbers.)

On Reddit, Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok, a huge community has coalesced around the anti-MLM sentiment, bringing together disenchanted former salespeople, curious independent researchers, and thousands of women who are just tired of getting Facebook messages about selling essential oils.

#AntiMLM is still diffuse and disorganized, but its rise poses an existential threat to multilevel-marketing companies that rely on the constant recruitment of new participants. And its newfound popularity is already presenting challenges for the community, which critiques capitalism on commercial platforms: If criticizing multilevel marketing is a good way to get views and followers and personal attention, how long will it be before that becomes the reason to criticize multilevel marketing?

On the Reddit forum r/antiMLM, members mock the industry all day long, referring to distributors as “hunbots” who lead off every conversation with a faux-warm “Hey, hun.” There is plenty of anger and caustic humor, but the community is tightly checked by moderators who insist that all screenshots have names and identifying information obscured.

Self-promotion of any kind is entirely forbidden, as is commentary on the quality of MLM products, good or bad. Shaming victims is out of bounds, and nobody is painted as a dupe: “If the post does not highlight a core problem with the MLM business model, it does not belong here,” the rules warn.

The moderators restrict discussions that take away from the mission of the subreddit—to map out and dissect MLMs—and encourage conversation about the system over anecdotes about low-level bad actors. The first major gathering place for people who shared the anti-MLM sentiment, the forum was started in 2011, but had only 2,000 members before suddenly taking off in August 2017.

Now it has more than 680,000 members and serves as the hub for a growing, informed discontent. Rainbow, the TikTok creator, refers to the Reddit community as the “OG anti-MLMers,” and calls it “the heart of the movement,” responsible for most of the significant work….Read more…..

By Kaitlyn Tiffany

Source: Multilevel Marketing and the Rise of ‘Anti-MLM’ YouTube – The Atlantic

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The Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on August 9, 2020.“Multilevel Marketing”. FTC. May 18, 2021.Multi-Level Marketing Businesses and Pyramid Schemes”. FTC, Bureau of Consumer Protection. January 4, 2018. Retrieved October 16, 2020.DuBoff, Leonard D. (2004).

The Law (in Plain English) for Small Business. Sphinx Pub. pp. 285–286. ISBN 978-1-57248-377-4.Xardel, Dominique (1993). The Direct Selling Revolution. Understanding the Growth of the Amway Corporation. Blackwell Publishing. pp. 1–4. ISBN 978-0-631-19229-9.

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“The Bottom Line About Multilevel Marketing Plans and Pyramid Schemes” (PDF). FTC. December 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 20, 2018. Retrieved September 19, 2018. Not all multilevel marketing plans are legitimate. Some are pyramid schemes.

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“Comp Plan Conversion:Direct Sales to MLM Compensation Plans”. Direct Sales Journal. Retrieved September 19, 2018. (citing Neil Offen, president of the Direct Selling Association)“US Direct Selling in 2009” (PDF). Direct Selling Association. 2010. Retrieved September 19, 2018.

“Direct Selling Organization Membership”. Direct Selling Association. Retrieved September 19, 2018.Ziglar, Zig; Hayes, John P. PhD (2001). Network Marketing for Dummies. Hungry Minds. ISBN 0-7645-5292-9.Pareja, Sergio (2008). “Sales Gone Wild: Will the FTC’s Business Opportunity Rule Put an End to Pyramid Marketing Schemes?”. McGeorge Law Review. 39 (83).

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FTC Returns More Than $3.7 Million to People Harmed by Pyramid SchemeO’Donnell, Jayne (February 10, 2011). “Multilevel marketing or ‘pyramid?’ Sales people find it hard to earn much”. USA Today. Retrieved September 19, 2018.Del Valle, Gaby (October 15, 2018).

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“Placing Practices: Transnational Network Marketing in Mainland China”. In Chen, Nancy N. (ed.). China Urban: Ethnographies of Contemporary Culture. Duke University Press. pp. 23–42. ISBN 978-0822326403.Xu, Lehman Lee. “Chinese Law | China: Direct Sale”. http://www.lehmanlaw.com. Archived from the original on January 21, 2015. Retrieved September 19, 2018.直销企业信息披露网站. zxjg.saic.gov.cn.

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Mark Zuckerberg’s Fortune Dropped $11 Billion Thursday–And Is Down $100 Billion Since Meta’s Stock Peaked

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while speaking as he testifies before a joint hearing of the ... [+] Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth fell $11 billion on Thursday to $36 billion as the company’s shares plummeted a day after it reported dismal quarterly earnings. Meta shares fell 25% to $97.94 on Thursday, pushing the stock to its lowest point since December 2016. In its third quarter earnings released late Wednesday, the social media giant reported a 50% decline in profits and revenue sliding by 4%, far below analyst expectations.

To make matters worse, Meta’s virtual and augmented reality division has lost a whopping $9.4 billion this year through September 30 trying to create the metaverse. On that front, Meta appears to be failing miserably.

“Look, I get that a lot of people might disagree with this investment. But from what I can tell, I think that this is going to be a very important thing, and I think it would be a mistake for us to not focus on any of these areas, which I think are going to be fundamentally important to the future,” Zuckerberg said in the company’s earnings call on Wednesday after the U.S. stock market closed.

The stock decline knocked Zuckerberg down from the 25th richest person in the world as of market close Wednesday to the 29th richest as of market close Thursday, according to Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaire tracker.

It hasn’t been a great year for Zuckerberg. Meta stock was flying high during the pandemic and reached its peak on September 7, 2021, bumping Zuckerberg’s fortune to $136.4 billion. Since then, Meta’s stock price has cratered by 74% and Zuckerberg has lost $100 billion, nearly three-fourths of his fortune at its peak.

Beyond the losses in its metaverse unit, Meta is facing fierce competition from TikTok for ad dollars—the source of the majority of its revenue—as well as a broader advertiser pullback amid concerns about an impending recession. Adding to its advertising woes, the social network is still reeling from privacy changes made by Apple last year that make it harder for tech companies to track users across apps, which has cut into its ad revenue.

I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering wealth at Forbes. Follow me on Twitter @rachsandl or shoot me an email rsandler@forbes.com.

Source: Mark Zuckerberg’s Fortune Dropped $11 Billion Thursday–And Is Down $100 Billion Since Meta’s Stock Peaked

.

Critics by Natalie Sherman

It comes as investor doubts about Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for the future grow, and revenues and profits decline. Meta’s sales shrank by 4% in the three months ending in September to $27.7bn (£24bn), while profits halved.

The fall in shares is set to wipe $78bn off the firm’s market value if the losses hold until the end of Thursday.

What’s gone wrong?

A year ago, Mark Zuckerberg declared virtual reality the next frontier to drive Facebook’s growth. But so far, there has been very little of it.The company, which also owns WhatsApp, is struggling as companies cut advertising budgets in the face of economic uncertainty, changes to Apple’s privacy settings hurt its targeted ads, and competition from rivals such as TikTok heats up.

Mr Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook at university almost two decades ago, acknowledged the firm faced “near-term challenges”.He said the company was focused on becoming more efficient and hinted at job cuts, saying the firm may be a “smaller organisation” next year.

But on a conference call stacked with sceptical analysts, he also maintained that the company was on the right path, as it invests in ways to keep people on its apps and stakes a claim in the emerging world of virtual reality, also known as the metaverse.

“There are a lot of things going on right now in the business and in the world,” he said. “We’re going to resolve each of these things… I think those who are patient and invest with us will end up being rewarded.”

Investor confidence plunged in February, when the company revealed it had lost daily users for the first time ever. Then in July, the company reported its first quarterly decline in revenue, as companies spooked by the economic outlook cut their advertising budgets.

Prior to the firm’s update, the value of Meta’s shares had fallen 60% since the start of the year, wiping hundreds of billions off the company’s value. They slid further on Thursday, after executives warned that recovery would take an improvement in the wider economy.

Analyst Debra Aho Williamson of Insider Intelligence said the company was on “shaky legs when it comes to the current state of its business”.”Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to focus his company on the future promise of the metaverse took his attention away from the unfortunate realities of today: Meta is under incredible pressure,” she said.

Meta continues to generate large profits – nearly $4.4bn in the three months ended in September – and it has also fended off a decline in users.The company said 2.93 billion people were active on one of its platforms daily in the three months ended in September, up from 2.88 billion in the quarter before.

Although the core Facebook platform is not adding users in the US or Europe, it continues to grow in other parts of the world.Despite its strengths, many investors fear the company has lost its way……

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These Psychologists Found a Better Way To Teach People To Spot Misinformation

A strong defense against online misinformation may be to administer a digital vaccine: Exposing yourself to common deception methods may help you recognize sensationalized headlines, misleading TikToks, or social media fabrications in the future. In collaboration with Google and its tech unit Jigsaw, a team of psychologists added short videos to YouTube’s ad lineup, educating people about how to spot common misinformation tactics.

In an online campaign, they found these clips were an effective way to get people to identify what’s real and what’s fake news. People who watched the videos were better able to identify misinformation techniques than those who didn’t see the clips, as the team reports in a study published in the journal Science Advances today.

“It’s very possible on social media to reduce vulnerability and susceptibility to being manipulated,” says Jon Roozenbeek, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge and the lead author of the study. “Maybe not all misinformation, but you can demonstrably improve people’s ability to detect when they’re being manipulated online.”

Misinformation happens when people spread false information, even if it wasn’t the person’s intention to mislead others. Misinformation happens regularly in our daily lives, says Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist who was not affiliated with the study, and it can be something as small as misremembering something you saw on television and telling someone else the wrong information.

“You can think of it as analogous to the childhood game of ‘telephone,’” explains Romanoff, in which small errors become magnified through repetition. But through the megaphone of social media, wrong or misleading claims can become a harmful way to distort the truth.

Anyone can fall prey to misinformation online, Romanoff says, though people who click on a story consistent with their pre-established beliefs are more susceptible. Being prone to impulsivity and feeling an overload of information could also make you more likely to spread fake news.

The current study focuses on inoculation theory, where people learn about these types of misinformation techniques. Roozenbeek compares this theory to a vaccine: Introducing a weakened virus or virus-like material primes your immune system to recognize and destroy the pathogen in the future. Unlike fact-checking, which takes a more retroactive approach, inoculation theory stops people who are exposed to misinformation from spreading the content in the first place.

“The idea was to inoculate people against these tropes, because if someone can successfully recognize a false dichotomy in content they’ve never seen before, they’re more resilient to any use of that particular manipulation technique on social media,” Roozenbeek says.

Roozenbeek and his team created five 1.5 minute videos covering common tactics used in online misinformation. To avoid any bias towards one group of people, the videos were designed to be nonpolitical, fictitious, and humorous. In the lab, the team invited over 6,000 participants to randomly watch either a video showing how to identify misinformation techniques or a neutral video that acted as a control. Afterward, the participants were shown 10 made-up social media posts that were manipulative or neutral.

Roozenbeek then partnered with Google to expand the study. As part of a public ad campaign on YouTube, nearly 23,000 people watched one of two anti-misinformation videos. One video involved negative and exaggerated emotional language to encourage clicks and belief in fake news (Sample headline: “Baby formula linked to horrific outbreak of news, terrifying disease among helpless infants. Parents despair.”).

The other one relied on presenting two points of views or facts as the only available options (The headline: “Improving salaries for workers means businesses will go bankrupt. The choice is between small businesses and workers. It’s simple mathematics.”).

Within a day of seeing the video ads, one-third of people who watched the videos were randomly given a test question on YouTube where they were asked to identify the type of manipulation technique in a headline or sentence. People who watched the videos were better able to pick out misinformation techniques and misleading content.

“Finding a significant effect was actually quite surprising,” Roozenbeek says. This is because unlike a controlled laboratory setting, people on the internet can get easily distracted by other ads and videos. Additionally, there is no guarantee people actually watched the videos. While the videos were not allowed to be skipped, people could have turned off the sound or moved to another tab. “But despite all that, we still found a large and robust effect.”

Roozenbeek and other psychologists are wrapping up another study that looks into how long it takes for people to forget what they’ve learned from the videos. “It’s not reasonable to expect someone to watch a video once and remember the lesson for all eternity. Human memory doesn’t work that way,” he says.

Ongoing results suggest ‌people might need a ‘booster shot,’ in the form of repeated video reminders. Another project in the works will use Twitter to see how watching these videos affects people’s behaviors, specifically how much they retweet misleading content.

To stay vigilant against misinformation as you scroll through the internet, Romanoff warns about these six common tactics:

  • Fabricated content: Completely false or made-up stories
  • Manipulated content: Information is intentionally distorted to fit a person’s agenda
  • Misleading content: A person deceives others, such as presenting an opinion as a fact
  • False context of connection: A person strings together facts to fit the narrative they are trying to convey, such as new stories using real images to create a false narrative of what happened
  • Satire content: A person creates false but comical stories as if they were true
  • Imposter content: A story is created through the branding and appearance of a legitimate news story, but is false such someone creating a video using someone else’s logo to seem legitimate

Source: It’s possible to inoculate yourself against misinformation | Popular Science

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