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Navigating Misinformation & Disinformation

How to navigate fact and fiction (and everything in between) online.

Break out of the Bubble!

Let's Talk About Your Filter Bubble                          illustration showing people in different bubbles

We all have one! But what are they, how do they exist, and why?

In the article, "The filter bubble and its effect on online personal health information," Harald Holone explains, 

"When you perform a Google search, the information about you is used in addition to your search term to find and prioritize the search results most likely to be of your interest. Then, when you click among the first search results (as most people do), you are confirming back to the search engine that the results were indeed relevant and/or interesting. This in turn strengthens the filter, making it more likely that you will receive similar results in the future."


Google essentially creates a feedback loop just for you, analyzing and then predicting the type of search results you want to see in order to keep you coming back to the platform. 

Social media feeds work similarly. Our feeds in Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, are not linear. They are instead fed to us by an algorithm that is designed to keep us engaged on the platforms. The more we see that we "like," or engage with, the more similar content we get, thus shutting out other views and ideas. In his article for the Wall Street Journal, Christopher Mims explains

"The personalization of content that Facebook's master algorithm allows, and the hyperpartisan news sites that have risen to feed it, have created, for many users, personalized "filter bubbles" of what is essentially nonoverlapping reality." 

We don't always like being presented with information we disagree with, right? This is called confirmation bias. We prefer to have our current beliefs affirmed, rather than being pushed to change our minds. So, an algorithm, powered by artificial intelligence exists in Google and on social media to feed you news you like, things you agree with, and things to keep you engaged. The deeper we sink into the our bubbles, the more limited our view on what's going on in the world. So how do we break out of this? 

  • Get your news from actual news outlets. Or, if you see something in your social media feed, find the source (which is hopefully a credible news outlet) and read the actual article. See what else is out there on the topic. 
  • Seek out other opinions or perspectives. You may still disagree with them, but they also help give you better context around an issue or event. 


All-Sides Media Bias Chart

Is your news source super biased? 

A bias is a conscious or unconscious preference or view towards a particular topic. It's like a filter that covers a topic and alters the way a person sees or understands it. 

Most of us have difficulty escaping our biases, they can be deeply engrained in us. But it's important to be aware of biases and how they might affect our understanding of a topic. Similarly, it's important to be aware of a news outlet or author's biases when reading information. The media chart below provides insight into our most popular news sources and their political leanings. 

NOTE: This chart is helpful guidance, but not all encompassing. Some of these news sources may publish a range of left or right-leaning materials depending on the topic, author, or other circumstances. Similarly, just because a news source is far left or right-leaning, doesn't mean that everything the publication prints is false, it just means you should read a range of sources to get a clearer picture of an issue. 

a bias chart showing different media outlets skewing far left-leaning or far-right leaning

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