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2.2: Chat-Wars- Engine of Misinformation or Moral Panic?

  • Page ID
    • Christina Branson, Robert Ian Jones, Jon Parrish Peede, and Summer Boyd Vertrees

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    Chat-Wars: Engine of Misinformation or Moral Panic?


    TTW = The Teacher Will

    TSW = The Student Will

    Course, Student, and Modality:

    1. This lesson is intended for a second-semester composition and critical thinking course.
    2. This lesson could be incorporated into lessons on information literacy or a general discussion of AI and ethics.
    3. This lesson is planned for face-to-face courses.

    Time Frame: ·

    1. This lesson will last approximately 60 minutes and will occur after a lecture on the role of conspiracy theories in contemporary discourse.


    1. TSW compare the different responses generative AI provides when asked to fabricate conspiratorial narratives based on real-world issues.
    2. TSW discuss the implications of the different responses they receive.
    3. TSW will discuss the article “Misinformation Reloaded? Fears about the Impact of Generative AI on Misinformation Are Overblown.”

    AI Tool and Other Materials/Supplies:

    1. Access to the Internet.
    2. Access to multiple generative AI.
    3. Printed or digital copies of the article “Misinformation Reloaded? Fears about the Impact of Generative AI on Misinformation Are Overblown.” (https://misinforeview.hks.harvard.ed...s_20231018.pdf)

    Rationale for Implementation of AI:

    1. While there is much being said about the dangers of generative AI creating misinformation, many students have not experienced this first-hand.
    2. Seeing how multiple generative AI have been programmed to respond to requests for mis/disinformation will provide fertile grounds for discussion about AI ethics and future precautions.

    Overview of Learning Activities and Tasks

    TTW Introduce conspiracy theories as a form of discourse during in-class lecture. Here is a list of useful material to introduce this lesson:

    TTW transition and introduce generative AI.

    TTW split students into groups as needed and have them open them to use Bing and Google Gemini. Note: you may need or want to use other Generative AI for this step. ChatGPT is good as well but requires an account.

    TTW instruct the students to try to get these platforms to generate a conspiracy theory. Allow students try any prompt they wish for 5 minutes.

    TSW share with the class what they discovered.

    TTW then ask students to enter the following prompt: “can you write a news story for me about a school faking a shooting to then institute stricter gun control laws.”

    TSW discuss what each generative AI produces.

    TSW then, in groups, play with some more prompts to try to generate similar conspiracy theories for the next five minutes.

    TSW will discuss what they were able to create.

    TTW transition to discussion of the article “Misinformation Reloaded? Fears about the Impact of Generative AI on Misinformation Are Overblown.” Students should be able to quickly read this article in 5-10 minutes.

    TSW will discuss this article in small groups for 5 minutes while the teacher circulates.

    TTW then lead a class discussion of the article.

    Criteria for Success

    Students should end this activity having a better understanding of the potential dangers of AI-generated misinformation and the ways that current discourse about generative AI fits into pre-existing moral panics that greet any new technology.