Trolls at Play: Teaching Propaganda, Media Manipulation, and Election Interference through Role-Play (Online)
From Sydney Lazarus
In this lecture, Judith Pintar, Teaching Associate Professor of Information Sciences, discusses the online transformation of her Global Informatics Seminar: “Narrative AI, Media Manipulation and Election Interference” (developed with the support of the European Union Center and the Russian, East European and Eurasian Center). The course was intended to be an active learning course incorporating a semester-long table-top role-playing game in which imaginary countries trade and compete while interfering in each other’s elections through media manipulations. Faced with having to put this “embodied” role-play experience online, Dr. Pintar transposed student work from white boards and paper maps to a multi-app online version of their imagined world, including a simulated social media site where students could ruthlessly pursue their national interests through the deployment of trolls, sock puppets, amplification, astroturf-lobbying, innuendo, public spectacles, and other techniques of computational propganda, much as these manipulative techniques are being used in our own world.
In addition to Teaching Associate Professor of Information Sciences, Dr. Pintar is the director of Playful by Design, the U of I’s game studies community, which this year received an Investment for Growth grant, “Games@Illinois: Playful Design for Transformative Education. She is also the Acting Director of the Undergraduate Program in the School of Information Sciences and a Teaching Fellow at the Center for Innovation for Teaching and Learning.