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Fake News & Bad Info: Media Literacy Resources

Learn how language can be used to in a way that it affects the way people perceive reality. Unlike real news, whose purpose is to simply inform, the main purpose of fake news is to confuse and manipulate people.

Human Vulnerabiltiies

Reasons Why We Are Vulnerable to Fake News

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  • short attention-spans​

  • prefer simplicity over complexity​

  • willful ignorance​ (choose not to know)

  • feel or react first, think second 

  • comfort over stress

Who Believes Fake News?







  • People who fear uncertainty.
  • People who are fearful and desperate.
  • People who trust their intuition or gut over fact or scientific data.
  • People who mistrust expertise, education, or experience in favor of the opinion of friends and family.
  • People who have difficult time rejecting misinformation- ego or ingrained beliefs.
  • People who are intolerant toward persons not like them.
  • People who unquestioningly accept all authority.

Types of Information Disorder

Information Disorder

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Claire Wardle, a world-renowned expert in this field, has used “information disorder” as an umbrella term for the various types of false, misleading, manipulated, or deceptive information we have seen flourish in recent years.


Graphic - Types of information Disorder



Unintentional mistakes such as inaccurate photo captions, dates, statistics, translations, or when satire is taken seriously.


Fabricated or deliberately manipulated audio/visual content. Intentionally created conspiracy theories or rumours.


Deliberate publication of private information for personal or corporate rather than public interest, such as revenge porn. Deliberate change of context, date or time of genuine content.

Trustworthiness of Online Content

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In an information environment shaped by pervasive algorithms, the attention economy, engagement, and polarization, how do we determine truth?

How do we know which sources of information to trust? These questions are becoming increasingly difficult to answer, and even more so as “disinformation that is designed to provoke an emotional reaction can flourish in these spaces” (Wardle).

A 2020 study from Project Information Literacy confirms that the way information is delivered today—with opinion and propaganda mingled with traditional news sources, and with algorithms highlighting sources based on engagement rather than quality—has left many college students concerned about the trustworthiness of online content.

Students reported that it was difficult to know where to place their trust when credible sources are buried by a deluge of poorer-quality content and misinformation.

One student noted that “it’s not that we’re lacking credible information. It’s that we’re drowning in like a sea of all these different points out there” (Head et al. 20).


Definitions of Terms

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  • Taking direct responsibility, by name, for the truthfulness and the reliability of the report. 
    • Examples -  bylines in print and digital journalism and sign-offs in audio and video reports.
  • Journalists and news organizations demonstrate accountability when they take responsibility for mistakes by issuing corrections. 


  • The act of disseminating information (usually visual) for the purpose of selling products and/or services


  • In favor (or against) a particular idea, person, or thing, based on one's personal feelings
  • A predisposition that distorts your ability to fairly weigh the evidence and prevents you from reaching a fair or accurate judgment. Here's how to spot bias

  • Media Bias - a pattern of unfairness or willful inaccuracy over time by a specific journalist or news outlet. It cannot be proven by a single isolated incident.

  • Audience Bias - describing the tendency of individuals to see bias in news media reports because they are unconsciously viewing journalism through their own biases.

    • A key element of Audience Bias is Cognitive Dissonance


  •  A form of false advertisement whose main purpose is to encourage users to follow a link to a web page
  • Clickbait often provides links that misrepresent itself and take users to links that generate advertising revenue for the number of clicks received

Cognitive Dissonance

  • A psychological theory that holds people are so powerfully motivated to reduce their discomfort that they will dismiss, block or warp incoming information that does not conform with their beliefs, viewpoint or understanding of the truth. It can result in:

    • Selective Distortion and Retention —
      • remembering only those elements of a news report that affirm the individual’s beliefs
      • only “hearing” or “seeing” elements of a report that affirm existing beliefs
    • Confirmation Bias —
      • seeking out information to confirm what we already believe
    • Source Misattribution —
      • attributing dubious information to a more credible source.

Confirmation Bias

  •  The tendency to confirm information based on one's preexisting beliefs, reassures, or reflects a person’s particular point of view


  • Information that is necessary to understand the scope, impact, magnitude or meaning of new facts reported as news 
  • Circumstances that form the setting for an event or statement ...
  • Ideas or facts that give greater meaning to a news report so that it can be fully understood and assessed


  • The deliberate dissemination of false or inaccurate information in order to discredit a person or organization

Fake News

  • The intentional falsification and fabrication of news-based information with the purpose to harm and deceive people

Filter Bubble

  • Eli Pariser's theory that personalization on websites and social media we use, creates a filter bubble sending us only information, news and suggestions that confirm our views and likes, and distancing us from other information


  • Something intended to deceive or defraud


  •  Is the presentation of facts about a subject


  • The sharing of inaccurate and misleading information in an unintentional way


  •  Any humorous, satirical, or burlesque imitation, as of a person, event, etc. 


  • Information deliberately spread to influence or raise awareness to a particular political cause or value position.
  • May resemble advertisements since both are highly visual, but propaganda does not engage in selling products or services


  •   Use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or humor, in the spread of information.

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