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Evaluating Information

A guide outlining false information, how it spreads across various platforms, and tips on recognition and assessment.


The Oxford English Dictionary offers the following definition for the term "bias":

A tendency, inclination, or leaning towards a particular characteristic, behavior, etc.; a propensity. Also: something, esp. an action or practice, to which a person is inclined or predisposed.

Click the collapsible tabs below to learn more about types of bias.

There are several ways that bias impacts our reception of information. The Center for Information Technology and Society at UC Santa Barbara outlined four ways cognitive bias causes us to "fall" for fake news (CITS, 2021):

  • Acting without reading
    • The tendency to formulate an opinion without having read a source in its entirety
  • The Bandwagon Effect
    • Assuming accuracy depending on how many likes or shares a given post or article has
  • Partisanship
    • We flock to platforms and companies that share our political affiliations
      • By seeking out information that caters to our own ideologies, we face a tendency of falling into "echo chambers" of like-minded individuals
  • Belief Echoes (Thorson, 2016)
    • "Belief echoes occur when people remember fake news and claim that it was true, even when they were later presented with correct information." (CITS, 2021)

Another bias that our brains will act upon is emotion. We react more to information that holds an emotional connotation, regardless of the information's accuracy (Hansen et al., 2011).

As social media and other technological platforms continue to fine-tune content based on user interaction, we begin to develop "filter bubbles" that only show us information or sources that align with our views. Learn more about Filter Bubbles in the TED Talk below.

Another form of bias that impacts interaction with misinformation is confirmation bias. This is "the tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions" (Bear, 2016). When information aligns with our own opinions or experiences, we're more likely to interact with it.

Learn more about confirmation bias in the video below.