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SOC 001: Introductory Sociology

Carol Cowan-Crawford

The Filter Bubble and Social Media

What is Fake News?

Fake news is in the News these days, so what is it?   The term is most often used to describe completely fabricated stories, but can also be applied to a broader continuum of news.  ​Many news outlets will exhibit some form of explicit or implicit bias while not falling into the fake news category. Assessing the quality of the content is crucial to understanding whether what you are viewing is true or not.   It is up to you to do the legwork to make sure your information is good. 

Fake News: Sources that intentionally fabricate information, disseminate deceptive content, or grossly distort actual news reports.

Satire: Sources that use humor, irony, exaggeration, ridicule, and false information to comment on current events.  

Bias: Sources that come from a particular point of view and may rely on propaganda, decontextualized information, and opinions distorted as facts. 

Rumor Mill: Sources that traffic in rumors, gossip, innuendo, and unverified claims.

State News: Sources in repressive states operating under government sanction.

Junk Science: Sources that promote pseudoscience, metaphysics, naturalistic fallacies, and other scientifically dubious claims.

A strategically placed hyperlink designed to drive traffic to sources that provide generally credible content, but use exaggerated, misleading, or questionable headlines, social media descriptions, and/or images.


Adapted from the tags used at

Why is it a problem?

Let's think about the following:

1. Have you ever been stuck in a filter bubble?

2. Have you ever shared something that was considered fake news?

Learn how to read news like a fact checker!

When you land on an unfamiliar website, open a new tab.  Figure out where the information is coming from.

  • Google the author.
  • Google the organization or its president.
  • Wikipedia is actually really helpful in learning more about specific publications and blogs.
  • If the article cites a source, go to the actual source to see if the claim is true.

It’s not about “About”

  • If the site is trying to fool people, they can certainly make up a great “About” page.

Look past the order of search results

  • Google does NOT put the most reliable results first; it puts the most linked-to results and paid ads at the top.
  • Instead, look very carefully at URLs and abstracts.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the results page, or even to the second page.

Check the date

  • The story may originally have been true, but is now falsely linked to a recent event.

Is this a joke?

  • The source may be a satirical site. Go to the original, not just the Facebook post.

Check your biases

  • Do you want to believe it because it confirms your feelings?

Consult the experts:


These tips came from: