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Knowledge Is Power: Fighting Misinformation, Disinformation, and Junk News

Poll: Where do you go to for news?

Which social media site, if any, are you more likely to receive your news from? (Click ONLY one)
Facebook: 0 votes (0%)
Instagram: 1 votes (50%)
LinkedIn: 0 votes (0%)
Reddit: 0 votes (0%)
Snapchat: 0 votes (0%)
TikTok: 0 votes (0%)
Twitter: 0 votes (0%)
YouTube: 0 votes (0%)
Other: 0 votes (0%)
I don't use social media.: 1 votes (50%)
Total Votes: 2

What can I do to combat filter bubbles and echo chambers?

"Search algorithms are created by people and reflect, not just the racist and sexist biases of users, but the racist and sexist biases of their designers." Learn more by reading: Noble, S. U. (2018). Algorithms of oppression: How search engines reinforce racism. New York University Press.

Build a healthy news diet, read on both sides of the issue

Watch the social dilemma (Netflix)

Read How to Escape Your Political Bubble for a Clearer View

Adapt browser settings. Deleting cookies, clearing search history, and adjusting browser settings can be a good start to ​getting outside of your filter bubble.

Browse incognito using anonymizers. Search engines such as DuckDuckGo and StartPage by Ixquick do not store your search history or personal information, they do not use targeted ads, and will never share your information with third parties. You will have a completely private and uncustomized browsing experience, therefore eliminating some of the effect of the filter bubble.


"...the technology will be so good it will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them."  - Eric Schmitt, Ex-CEO of Google

The Internet, especially social media and mobile technology, has become increasing able to create customized experiences for each individual searching or browsing information online. In some ways, this can be a positive thing, and definitely very handy. For example, when you are visiting a different city (or state, or country, etc.), your Google search results will be run through localized filters to bring you the results most relevant to where you are current located. Google knows where you are!! Also, many of the ads you see embedded into websites are going to be targeting you directly—not your friends, or your parents, but you! This content customization goes beyond advertisements. Facebook feeds, for example, can become information echo chambers, flowing content based on what the algorithm, or program, predicts you will be most interested in. This can place you in a virtual world of information that only affirms what you are already believe rather than challenge you to think outside of your bubble. 

Take Back Some Control Over Algorithms

Facebook: In a web browser, go to the home icon at the top of your feed, scroll through the menu on the left side. Select “See More,” then “Most Recent.” In the mobile app, go to the three horizontal lines on top or bottom right of your screen and look for “Most Recent.” Just know, you’ll be bumped out of this feed when you close the website or the app.

Twitter: Twitter is far easier. A small star in the upper right corner of the website and app allow you to “See latest Tweets” instead of “Top Tweets.” While it used to throw you back to the algorithmic feed, it now keeps you in the feed you last used. I often toggle between the two.

YouTube: You can’t turn off the entire set of algorithmic recommendations but you can switch to “Latest videos” in each category or search query. You can also turn off autoplay. In a web browser, look for the tiny toggle with a play button on the bottom of the video player. In the app look for the tiny toggle at the top of the video player.

TikTok: Next to the addictive, algorithmically driven For You feed is the Following feed, showing just the people you follow on the service. Just know: TikTok still uses algorithms here to show you videos it thinks you’ll want to watch most.

Instagram: Sorry, no can do. Algorithms only. A Facebook spokeswoman explained that with the old chronological feed, people missed 70% of the posts in their feed—almost half their friends and family’s posts. After making the change to the algorithmic feed, the company found that on average, people saw more than 90% of their friends’ posts.

Stern, J. (2021, January 17). Social-media algorithms rule how we see the world. Good luck trying to stop them. Wall Street Journal.

Search Engine and Social Media Bias Affect What You See

Social media and web search engine algorithms are deliberately opaque. Algorithms often reinforce our existing biases. Unlike media stories, how these online tools distribute fake news is not open to scrutiny. In this opinion article from the New York Times, "How to Monitor Fake News," Tom Wheeler suggests a way to open up social media algorithms to public scrutiny without compromising individual privacy.

This video from the Southern Poverty Law Center shows how the Google searching algorithm effectively narrowed the perspective of Dylann Roof because he searched for white supremacy information. In this example, other points of view were not represented because the Google search results privileged hate sites.