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Graphic novel ‘Real Fake’: An exposé on disinformation and threats of cyberwarfare

We’ve all heard the term ‘fake news’ but digital graphic novel Real Fake sheds light on how disinformation is spreading through society and what people can do to manage their exposure.

US government commissioned British creative agency Erly Stage Studios to create Real Fake ahead of the Presidential Election 2020 (lol), with the graphic novel chosen as an engaging and practical means to communicate government policy messages – patronising or inclusive, I’ll leave that one up to you.

Deepfakes, bots, and troll farms are just some of the emerging techniques for creating and spreading disinformation. This book is the first of the graphic novels that are a part of the Resilience Series commissioned by the US Cyber Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA). 

Real Fake will inform and educate people on the dangers and risks associated with dis- and mis- information through fictional stories inspired by real-world events.

In Real Fake, readers will meet the protagonist Rachel O’Sullivan, a gamer, patriot and member of Symous – a group fighting disinformation and foreign interference in elections as polling day approaches.

Farid Haque, founder and CEO of Erly Stage Studios commented, “We’re delighted to have been commissioned by CISA to create a practical and engaging communication tool that highlights the existential threat of disinformation in the context of bad state actors.

“While the story is fictional many of the approaches shown are very much grounded in the reality of the technology we live with and are exposed to almost daily.” 

Real Fake provides a unique education for the reader about the world of Deepfakes and their history, while helping the reader understand the need to exercise care when it comes to consuming news and information via social media platforms and online sources of information. 

In the story, racing against the clock a group of citizens set out to shine a spotlight on the source of disinformation.

They find it’s coming from across their borders and from the unlikeliest of places set up as farms to perpetuate information that maliciously misleads and influences electoral outcomes.

The protagonists of the story have access to unique resources and are able to prove who the sponsors of disinformation are via their puppet farms set up around the world to troll democracy in the land of the free. 

“Real Fake is the culmination of the wealth of experience that Clint Watts brings in cyber warfare and disinformation and our studio’s creative direction and storytelling style. We spent months researching the real life incidents and then wrapped them into a fictional story” added Farid Haque.

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