Escape the Mist: Disinfo Walkthrough

What is Disinformation?

Watch this 5-minute animation video to unpack the components of disinformation, how it threatening to our society, and how we counter it!


Most Important Things You Need to Know About Disinformation

Doublethink Lab

In this era of information explosion, attention has become a scarce and precious asset. For all the brands, companies, and politicians to gain traction on social media platforms, they need to capture YOUR attention. This is often accomplished by creating and disseminating compelling information on the platform, even if the information is not entirely true.


Who is Being Affected and Why?

What do we know about disinformation? Disinformation is factually inaccurate and preys on prejudice, bias and emotions. In this, it is actually very similar to a rumor. Think about rumors flying around in your office or school pantry. Who is getting a promotion? Who doesn’t like working with whom? Studies have tried to understand why people believe in unverified information like rumors and disinformation.

Dr. Nicholas DiFonzo, in his publication “The Watercooler Effect: A Psychologist Explores the Extraordinary Power of Rumors”, explains that rumors help people make sense of the world and cope with their anxieties amid uncertainty.

That is why we believe in them. According to DiFonzo, people tend to believe in rumors which conform to their beliefs or which they have heard on multiple occasions. People also tend to foster negative rumors of outside groups to reassure ourselves. With the Internet and social media, disinformation intentionally fabricated to cause harm and chaos has become more malicious than rumor.

In the following Video Podcast, Dr. Nuurrianti Binti Jalli will share how disinformation weaponizes our psychological biases and utilizes cultural differences to gain power. Dr. Ross Tapsell will also introduce how Internet accessibility can affect the spread and influence of disinformation.

5-minute Video Podcast with Experts

Psychological Bias

Dr. Nuurrianti Jalli


Cultural Difference

Dr. Nuurrianti Jalli


Internet & Disinformation

Dr. Ross Tapsell


Learn More Factors and Research


  1. A study shows that age has the greatest effect on the acceptance of fake news, compared to education and gender.
  2. Seniors have more difficulty discerning factual statements from opinion and in identifying trustworthy sources.
  3. A study of Taiwan’s 2018 local elections shows that voters in the 20-29 age group were also more likely to believe fake news.

Information Source

  1. People are more likely to share and like a Facebook message from a trustworthy friend.
  2. Misinformation endorsed by famous people is perceived as more credible.

Educational Level

  1. A study shows that people with lower education level are more likely to disseminate false information.
  2. Micro-targeted political advertising on Facebook has a strong influence on less educated people.

Need for Cognition (NFC)

  1. NFC refers to individuals’ tendency to enjoy engaging in activities that require thinking.
  2. High-NFC individuals have more accurate memories and accept less misinformation.

Personality Traits

  1. People who are more friendly and careful can better discern fake headlines.
  2. Five traits (cautious, introverted, unsympathetic, undirected and emotionally stable) are associated with a higher ability to detect fake news.

Analytical Thinking

  1. People with higher analytical thinking are less likely to believe in fake news.
  2. Analytical thinking helps people discern fake news, regardless of their political attitudes.


  1. Emotions affect people’s susceptibility to misinformation.
  2. Anger leads to a higher degree of misinformation sharing.
  3. Anger and anxiety can result in people interpret information along partisan lines.

Moral Value

  1. People are more receptive to subject matter aligned with their moral stance.
  2. One study also suggests that people who repeatedly encounter a misinformation feel that it is less unethical to spread it.


  1. Men and women’s perception of difficulty in identifying fake news is similar.
  2. Women tend to consider that distant others are more influenced by fake news.

Why is it so Dangerous?

The Type of Disinformation that You Should Be More Aware of

Understanding disinformation is not just about determining whether information is true or false. Propaganda and conspiracy theories are examples of disinformation that defy such classification. Indeed, many instances of propaganda and conspiracy theories contain elements of truth, designed to create or exploit divisions in their audiences. This section will focus on identifying propaganda and conspiracy theories, and their potential to cause harm and conflict.

Propaganda & Conspiracy Theory

Video Interview with Dr. Luwei Rose Luqiu

Academics have defined propaganda as the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to fulfill the desired intent of the organization or people who create the propaganda. Play the video and learn the various kinds of propaganda, the harm, and how to counter it.

Propaganda Tactics

Glittering Generality

An emotionally appealing phrase closely associated with highly valued concepts and beliefs, such as freedom or national rejuvenation, that carries conviction without any supporting information.


During WW2 , a poster using a cultural icon of a working woman flexing her muscles with the title “We Can Do It!” stirred up a positive connotation of working women and acknowledged that women can help with war.


Attempting to persuade the target audience to join in with the desired course of action because “everyone else is doing it”.


Bandwagoning is sometimes used to describe the behavior of voters during elections and polling. Studies show that voters sometimes indicate support for a political party simply because that party appears to be popular in recent polls.

Loaded Language

Using words/phrases with strong emotional implications (positive or negative) to influence an audience.


Nazi Germany sent out numerous ant-Jewish posters to influence public opinions. One of them portrayed a finger pointing at a Jewish symbol, with the words, “Der ist schuld am Kriege!” (He is guilty of the war.)

Cherry Picking

The act of pointing to individual cases that seem to confirm a particular position while ignoring a significant portion of cases that may contradict that position.


The former Soviet Union celebrated International Workers’ Day with propaganda artworks, by showing delighted couples or proud workers. It used these artworks to present a positive side of the Soviet-type economy, while hiding the statistical evidence of poverty.


Turning criticism back onto the critic to avoid taking responsibility. The usual syntax is "What about...?" followed by an issue on the opponent's side which may or may not be related to the original issue.


Chinese diplomats who used Twitter to highlight the racial inequalities and social unrest in the United States in response to criticism of the Chinese government's mistreatment of ethnic minorities.

Red Herring

Introducing irrelevant material, so that attention is diverted away from the primary issue.


In a parliamentary debate, the opposition argues that the government should have a plan for healthcare, and the government counters by saying the opposition failed to raise taxes on cigarettes in the past.

Appeal to Authority

Stating that a claim is true or false simply because a valid authority/expert on the issue supports it, without any other supporting evidence.


Climate change deniers used to use this tactic by referring to scientists who spoke out against global warming, or argued that the science was not conclusive.

Being "of the people"

The speaker presents themselves as an ordinary person who can understand and empathize with the concerns of everyday people.


During election campaigns, politicians may release pictures or videos of them eating street food with ordinary people in order to show how “down to earth” they are. Having pictures taken with babies is also popular.

Create Problems, then Offer Solutions

A tactic propagandists use is to create a problem, or a “situation” that causes panic and anxiety, so that they can use it as an excuse to implement an agenda by selling it as a “solution” for you.


Nazi Germany portrayed Jews as criminals to persuade the public of the need to commit genocide.


Promoting the idea that individuals are to blame for their own misfortunes, rather than due to a lack of support from institutions, which saps their confidence and prevents them from taking action.


Government narratives sometimes suggest that the way to achieve a better life is through hard work, while ignoring systemic causes of inequality and poverty, thus making people who are poor and in suffering feel that they have only themselves to blame.

Conspiracy Theory Checklist


Steps to Analyze the Narrative

Propaganda and conspiracy theories are usually disguised in random content. It’s difficult to spot them, or to understand their goals and techniques. Therefore, narrative analysis becomes important when encountering propaganda and conspiracy theory.


How to Counter Disinformation?

Countering Powerlessness

Ethan Zuckerman

Dictators love making people feel powerless, because it keeps them safe. Powerless people will never challenge those in power. And disinformation wants to keep us powerless, fighting to assert that's true rather than challenging those who are in power. This website helps us learn how disinformation works, why and how people lie and how we might fight back. But we must remember WHY we fight back.


Engagement Strategy

Fact Checking Tutorials by First Draft

7 types of Mis- /dis- information

Stevie Zhang | Research Reporter, APAC Bureau

How to start fact checking?

Esther Chan | Bureau Editor, Australia

How to build trust by fact checking?

Anne Kruger | APAC Director

Case Studies



Want to know more about how to counter disinformation or misinformation? Here are more resources for you!