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Misinformation and Fake News

Are you curious what fake news is and how to identify it? This guide explores the problem of misinformation and provides strategies for checking facts.

Why Our Brains Love Fake News

Bias

A bias is "a tendency, inclination, or prejudice toward or against something or someone” (Psychology Today). Bias can be explicit (we are aware of it) or implicit (outside of our conscious awareness). One particular bias that often comes into play when it comes to news sources is called confirmation bias, or motivated reasoning. This involves seeking information to confirm our beliefs and avoiding information that causes cognitive dissonance (mental discomfort we feel when confronted with conflicting information). 

To combat confirmation bias, try the following tactics:

  • Develop a habit of skepticism about claims that others make, especially if the claim has a high impact and touches on a controversial issue. 
  • Have an open mind and question your own assumptions.
  • Try to diversify the information you encounter by popping your filter bubble (see the strategies to the right).

Eli Pariser on Filter Bubbles

What is a Filter Bubble?

Many of us get our news from sources that filter out the kinds of information we don't want to hear or see. Whether it's because social media platforms and search engines are using algorithms to show us what we want, or because we avoid information that we don't like (see info about confirmation bias to the left), we might only be seeing some of the story all of the time.

This is what Eli Pariser calls a filter bubble.Your filter bubble is the universe of information you live in and that is determined based on your interests and preferences. You may not even be aware that there is information outside of your filter bubble that isn't making it in.

Below are some resources to help you escape your filter bubble.