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Fake News and Disinformation Guide

What is Fake News/Disinformation?

Laptop open with a newspaper page on screen. Block lettered "FAKE" over the newspaper page, with question marks surrounding the laptop.In this guide, the terms 'disinformation' and 'fake news' may be used interchangeably. 

Disinformation refers to "false information deliberately and often covertly order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth" (Merriam-Webster).

Fake News refers to "stories, often of a sensational nature, created to be widely shared or distributed" ( or "false or misleading information presented as news" (Wikipedia).

While they are not exactly the same, they both refer to false information being shared with the public (the reasons for which vary). This is what we are concerned about with this guide: determining what this looks like and how we can become better at spotting it.

How this information is created/spread can be found on the sub-pages for this topic.

(Image Source: Buzzfeed)

Personal and Confirmation Bias

Bias is an important component of fake news and disinformation, as it influences what we are willing to believe. This is based on our own preferences for what we believe is better or inferior. Our personal biases impact our lives in different ways, especially when it comes to news consumption and fact-checking.

Confirmation bias refers to "the tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with one’s existing belief" (Britannica). Sometimes fake news/disinformation may actually align with your beliefs, but that doesn't mean that it is true. 

It is important to be objective when searching for and consuming information, and to get your news from a variety of sources. We'll talk more about checking your confirmation bias in the "How to Spot Fake News" section.Comic strip of man at computer. Dialogue. Man: I've heard the rhetoric from both sides...time to do my own research on the real truth. Computer Screen: Literally the first link that agrees with what you already believe. Man: ...jackpot.

(Image Source: Chainsawsuit by Kris Straub)