Bad News is a website that offers simulations that show visitors how misinformation is spread through social media. Bad News is available in two versions. The regular version is intended for those who are high school age or older. Bad News Junior is appropriate for middle school and older elementary school students. The difference between the two versions is found in the news topics that are used in the simulations.
In both versions of Bad News players work through a simulation in which they attempt to build a Twitter following by spreading misleading news stories. (I must emphasis that there are no real Tweets sent and you don’t have to even have a Twitter account to play Bad News). Through the simulation players learn how headlines, memes, and Tweets are designed to manipulate people and prompt reactions from them. The simulation also shows players how Twitter bots are used.
There are six distinct sections of Bad News. At the end of each section players are awarded a badge signifying that they have learned about the manipulation techniques associated with trolling, impersonation, discrediting, polarizing, emotional manipulation, and conspiracy theories.
Bad News does offer a short guide, in the form of this PDF, to using Bad News Junior in your classroom.
As I played the game and then researched the developers I couldn’t help but think, “am I fall for a fake?” Despite learning about the game from a trusted source, Larry Ferlazzo, I still did my own research to make sure that Bad News wasn’t an elaborate ploy to get people to participate in the spread of a game that was bad news. It all seems to be on the up and up.