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Fake news!: Biases and their characteristics

Bias - Why do we love fake news?

We all have biases which were influenced by various factors: backgrounds, life experience, prejudices. However, it is up to us to recognize those biases and keep them in check. Here, we are looking at three type of biases:

Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias: is an unavoidable part of how you make decisions. It’s an evolutionary trait that influences how you view the world, and it’s not something you can always overcome. However, if we are aware of its characteristics, then we can work towards forming an unbiased view to most circumstances or information.

  • Characteristics of confirmation bias:

    • Tendency to seek, favor and recall information that confirms one's preexisting ideas or hypotheses.

    • Don't perceive circumstances or information objectively.

    • Tendency to pick out bits of data that confirming the preconceived notions of how things are supposed to be.

  • What can be done:

    • Recognise the problem

    • Be wary of your confidence in your preexisting beliefs

    • Searching for different viewpoints

    • Vet your sources

    • Be prepared to have your preconceived beliefs challenged


Bullard, E. (2019). Confirmation bias. Salem Press Encyclopedia.

Retrieved from

Implicit bias

Implicit bias: is the attitudes, stereotypes or beliefs that can affect our understanding, decisions and how we treat others in an unconscious manner.

Implicit bias is not intentional, but it can still impact how we judge others based on race, ability, appearance, gender, culture or language.

  • Characteristics of implicit bias:

    • It is pervasive. Everyone possesses some sort of prejudices and they can spread widely throughout an area or a group of people.

    • It is mallaeable. It can be unlearn overtime.

    • We generally tend to hold implicit biases that favor our own ingroup.

    • We may go unaware of demonstrating or having the bias, and would likely to deny of having the inclination if challenged.

    • Conditions such as: ambiguous or incomplete information , time constraints, fatigue can lead to relying on implicit bias.

  • What can be done:

    • Recognise your prejudices or stereotypic thoughts

    • Be willing to change your prejudices

    • Be willing to accept contrasting viewpoints

    • Avoid making snap decisions based on stereotype

    • Getting more information on specific points/thoughts before making decision

Media bias

Media bias: is the bias in journalistic reporting, in news or programming selection and covering, etc., in mass communications media.

Media bias differs from fake news, in that fake news is specifically untrue.

  • Characteristics of media bias:

    • There are different types of media bias such as: political bias, advertising bias, corporate bias, mainstream bias, sensationalism, and concision bias.

    •  Biased sources don't necessarily use lies, they just don't present a whole picture, using only the facts that support their viewpoints. Thus, by using only the facts which were chosen to support their causes or viewpoints, they are giving an incomplete and therefore inaccurate picture.

    • Sensationalism: attention-grabbing , exaggerated, lurid, loud and in a manner to gain audience and notoriety at the expense to accuracy and professionalism.

  • How to detect media bias:

    • Bias by omission - media leaves out one side, or one aspect of a story. This type of bias is often associated with political news stories

    • Who are the sources?

    • From whose point of view is the news reported?

    • Are there double standards?

    • Stereotyping

    • Lack of context

    • Do the headlines and stories match?

    • Lack of diversity

  • What can be done:

    • Use "the round table" approach - an adversarial format in which opposing/diverse views are allowed to be heard and represented.

    • Compare headlines and story content

    • Question the agenda of sources

    • Compare photographs and photo captions to the news stories connected with them

Further reading:


Davis, J. (1990). Beyond the myth of objectivity. Media&Values.(50).

Retrieved from

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