With the world still at war with the Covid-19 pandemic, a similar battle is being waged online against what observers over the past year have termed as an “infodemic” or rampant sharing of false information.
Much like how self-control is attributed as a key to preventing Covid-19 infections, a team of Malaysian creators has launched an online tool for the public to identify and combat disinformation.
The ‘Choices I Make’ is a browser role-playing game created by the Malaysia Information Literacy Education (Mile). Players can play the game from the perspectives of the victims and creator of “fake news”.
Funded by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and illustrated by Studio Behind 90, Choices I Make is a choose-your-own-adventure game that allows players to take on the personalities of three very different Malaysians – a retired satay seller, a college student and an online game creator.
Its basic idea revolves around how spreading disinformation is a personal choice and an informed public would be less at risk of falling for false information.
Inspired by real-life events, Mile co-founder Darshini Kandasamy said the game aims to educate players on fake news, fact-checking and content farms, as well as the legal and criminal consequences of spreading fake news.
“Malaysia still has a long way to tackle the issue of disinformation and instil critical thinking and information literacy skills to adequately analyse, evaluate, and process the flood of online content we receive.
“This situation is exacerbated with all the news, rumours and propaganda coming out amid the pandemic,” said Darshini.
“We often make split-second decisions on whether to believe and share a piece of information.
“We may have the best of intentions but tend to share information without even knowing if it’s true in the first place, and without fully understanding the ramifications of doing so,” she added.
With the recent launch of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, police have threatened stern actions against individuals found to be spreading disinformation or inciting vaccine rejection, undermining the goal of achieving 80 percent vaccination rate for herd immunity.