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Fake News & Evaluating Information: Social Media

This guide will help you to verify and utilize fact-based news resources for research purposes.

How To Spot a Fake Account


Most social media sites give official accounts, like companies and high-profile people, a checkmark to put next to their name or username to indicate that they are the only official account, and any others accounts that claim to be the same company or person should be assumed to be fake. However, Twitter is currently undergoing changes to its verification system so this method does not work for this site currently.


Account History:

If the claims to be a well know source (like CNN or CBS) and only has a few posts in its history, that is a red flag. If it's a well know source and the account has only been active a short time, that is another red flag.


Follower Count:

Even though the number of followers can vary greatly according to the popularity of the brand, product or business, it can help you recognize if a channel is official or not. If the account is well known by millions of people (CNN, CBS), the account should at least thousands of followers.



Images of an event are often reused to deceive people by reposting them after the original post was made. You can check if an image has been used before on a reverse image search service like TinEye.

Filter Bubbles

When reading news and searching online, consumers experience the "filter bubble." The filter bubble is formed by websites and search engines that personalize the content you see, like news and search results. The results you get are personalized based on factors, like location and past clicks. It means you may not see the same results as others. Eli Pariser coined the term.

You may know this term as "algorithm." They are interchangeable.

The Filter Bubble and Google

How Google search works:

  • Step 1: Google sends out web crawlers to scan and save, or index, webpages.
  • Step 2: You search Google by typing words in the search bar.
  • Step 3: Google searches its indexed webpages to find results that match your search words.
  • Step 4: Google finds and organizes results based on factors, like your location or keywords. An algorithm, called PageRank, sorts and orders the results.
  • Step 5: Google gives you search results.

Google's PageRank uses a bunch of factors to get results. Details that affect your individual search, like your location and search history, might be different from other people's. So when you search a topic, you might see different results than someone else gets

The Filter Bubble and Social Media

Filter bubbles are formed in social media environments through algorithms that deliver personalized information (like Facebook's News Feed) as well as through our own choices of who we follow.  Here's some food for thought:

How to Burst Your Filter Bubble

The most effective way to burst your filter bubble is to expand your personal learning network and vary the sources of your news and information.  You take the driver's seat!  Here are a few specifics:

  • going directly to news websites,
  • trying different search engines,
  • finding news in different formats, like podcasts or social media,
  • and following the news by using tools, like RSS, email newsletters, and more.

You can also take a deeper dive to change your mindset, adjust the settings on different applications, and use tools that will help you seek other perspectives: Everything is in A Filter Bubble