Google to Start Running “Prebunk” Ads and Quizzing YouTube Viewers to Fight So-Called “Misinformation”

(Reclaim The Net)—Prebunking – until relatively recently it was just one of the fringe concepts in the relentless “war on misinformation industrial complex.”

A short way to describe it is as a dystopian version of debunking false or incorrect information. But here the idea is to stop users (“help them identify”) unwanted content, before they can even see it.

A short way to describe what’s wrong with the “war on misinformation” is that it all too easily turns into a smokescreen for plain censorship of lawful and factually correct speech.

And now, prebunking is moving from ideations pushed by murky “fact-checking” and similar outfits, to the very top of the mainstream – Google.

The company that in effect controls the search market and some of the largest social platforms in the world (outside China) has announced that its latest anti-misinformation campaign will incorporate prebunking.

No doubt with an eye on the US election later in the year, Google’s attention is now on Europe, specifically the EU ahead of the European Parliament vote in June.

Google is acting in unison with the EU and its Digital Services Act which require tech giants to act on whatever is chosen to be considered “misinformation” and suppress it. Much of this is (at least they say so) driven by “Russia Scare,” and so both Google’s Jigsaw unit and the EU are talking about “democracy at risk.”

As for Google’s version of “prebunking,” it, at least in Europe, comes in the form of animated ads, reports say. They will play not only on YouTube but also other platforms like TikTok, and target Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Poland – the EU countries with the largest number of voters.

Jigsaw says prebunking bypasses “polarized debates” and “works equally effectively across the political spectrum.”

User experience may suffer at the expense of this “pre-reeducation.”

“Viewers watching the ads on YouTube will be asked to fill in a short multiple-choice questionnaire, designed to gauge what they have learned about misinformation,” Reuters describes Google’s prebunking technique.

These days, agencies like Reuters describe Jigsaw as an internal Google unit “which operates to tackle threats to societies.”

How noble of Jigsaw, and obliging towards Google of Reuters – but in 2016, reports were still talking about Jigsaw as rather what it really is – a rebrand of Google Ideas.

And, The Guardian explained at the time, this was “the web giant’s controversial diplomatic arm, founded in 2010 and headed by ex-US State Department policy wonk Jared Cohen,” adding – “Jigsaw’s stated mission is to use technology to tackle geopolitics.”

(Geo)politics may these days have been rebranded as “misinformation.”

But otherwise, little has changed.

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