Short videos that inoculate against misinformation online

Project Description

Truth Labs for Education is a collaboration between Cambridge University, the University of Bristol, and Google Jigsaw. We created a series of short videos designed to help people resist unwanted persuasion online. The videos are rooted in a framework from social psychology called inoculation theory, which posits that by exposing people to a weakened dose of a persuasive argument or technique and pre-emptively refuting it, they develop psychological resistance against future manipulative persuasion attempts.

We created 5 videos, each of which “inoculates” people against a particular manipulation technique or misleading rhetorical device commonly encountered online: ad hominem attacks, using emotional language to evoke fear or outrage, false dichotomies, incoherence, and scapegoating.


Emotions are powerful tools of persuasion. Research shows that using emotional words, especially ones that evoke negative emotions such as fear or outrage, increases the viral potential of social media content.


Incoherence occurs when someone uses two or more arguments to make a point that cannot logically all be true at once. It’s a technique most commonly seen in longer discussions about a particular topic.


A false dichotomy (or false dilemma) is a logical fallacy in which a limited number of choices or sides are presented as mutually exclusive, when in reality more options are available. It’s also known as the “either-or fallacy”.


Scapegoating is when a person or group is singled out or takes unwarranted blame for a particular problem.


An ad hominem attack is when someone attacks the person making an argument, instead of addressing the argument itself. Ad hominem attacks are commonly used to redirect the listener away from the subject at hand and towards an individual. They can be baseless attacks but aren’t necessarily, as in some cases a messenger’s credibility is relevant to the argument at hand.

Study under review - coming soon