Google expands European information ‘prebunking’ initiative

US internet giant Google is worried about people getting the wrong information online and has decided some interventions are required.

Accordingly, the initiative is called Info Interventions (URL: As you can see from the tweet below, it has been up and running for a few months now, but the AP reports it is being expanded across Europe. There doesn’t currently seem to be any public information beyond that report, at this stage, but the language is of a type we have become familiar with.

Especially notable is the introduction of the term ‘prebunking’, which is a clear aim of this initiative, and refers to conditioning people to identify and reject the ‘wrong’ types of information. It’s run by Jigsaw, which is ‘a unit within Google that explores threats to open societies, and builds technology that inspires scalable solutions,’ according to its website. ‘We look for high-impact interventions, where focusing on helping a specific group of people – journalists, civil society, or activists, for example – makes the internet and society stronger and safer for everyone,’ it continues.

What’s not to like, eh? We’re all in favour of safety, right? And who better to rely on for that than the dominant internet company? And we think we speak for all journalists in thanking Google for its help. The current initiative involves running a bunch of video ads that patiently explain what’s right and what’s wrong. For those lingering sceptics that question the role of Google as the sole arbiter of such concepts, we’ve embedded some videos from the project below to reassure you.

“There’s a real appetite for solutions,” said Beth Goldberg, R&D at Jigsaw, in the AP report. “Using ads as a vehicle to counter a disinformation technique is pretty novel. And we’re excited about the results.” The report goes on to quote self-appointed fact-checker Poynter approving of measures to combat misinformation. Apparently Google will formally unveil its new German campaign later today.

This whole project provides a montage of the vague and subjective terms commonly used to justify online censorship. Who decides what is a falsehood, or misinformation, or harm? Google does, it seems. On the other hand, this isn’t censorship. While the desire to brainwash everyone is decidedly creepy and dystopian, people are still free to ignore those YouTube ads, as they presumably do all others. Also, the advice to seek multiple sources is undeniably good, but we do wonder whether the interventions will end there and, if not, what’s next.


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One comment

  1. Avatar Sam LIsle 18/02/2023 @ 1:31 am

    Thank you for continuing to cover this important topic. I’m reminded of my childhood when the public health advice maintained margarine was good for you and butter was bad. Then decades later it was discovered margarine had actually been far more dangerous than butter all along. How would have the “disinformation” (whatever that is) police have dealt with that?

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