Inside Sources: Talking about confirmation bias and social-media manipulation

Apr 10, 2021, 8:33 AM | Updated: 8:36 am
confirmation bias...
FILE - This March 29, 2018 file photo, shows the logo for social media giant Facebook at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. Facebook said Monday Jan. 6, 2020 that it is banning “deepfake” videos, the false but realistic clips created with artificial intelligence and sophisticated tools, as it steps up efforts to fight online manipulation. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
(AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

SALT LAKE CITY — You see what you look for and not what you don’t: confirmation bias.

Counselor Jenny Howe joined ‘Inside Sources’ host Boyd Matheson, former opinion editor at Deseret News, to teach listeners about confirmation bias, which is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor and recall information in a way that confirms or supports your prior beliefs or values.

Confirmation bias

“Nobody is exempt from [confirmation bias]. Everybody has a brain that is wired to look for things that predict and also protect them from perceived threat, that’s a confirmation bias,” Howe said. “We see things that stick with our beliefs, our values or our internal thought processes.  We disregard the other things. We don’t even know we do this. Our brains are wired to look to for the things that make our beliefs true.”

As an example of confirmation bias, Howe used a person buying a cherry red sports car.

“You’re driving home from the car lot. Pretty soon on the drive home you start to notice a lot of cherry red sports cars. . . . These cars are just popping up everywhere. You start to notice it when it was something that your brain hadn’t even looked for prior to you buying that car,” she said. 

Social media manipulation

A social media algorithm is defined as a set of rules used to rank, filter and organize the content for users within a certain social media platform. Its major role is to show users the content according to their preferences and previous activities on social media.

“In terms of our social media, and especially with our young people who are developing in critical ages, we allow that confirmation bias to become a comparison bias — a rejection of being challenged. How  do we address that?” Boyd asked.

“The biggest thing that we can do is help our kids and ourselves — let’s be honest — understand that these algorithms are created to confer what we naturally want to believe and to create these comparisons,” Howe said. “If we think that what we’re seeing on social media feeds is the reality of the situation, then we’re going to fall into that comparative trap and that sense of rejection.”

Know it to control it

“If we don’t understand how these algorithms are created, and we have no education in that area, then we don’t really know how we’re being manipulated,” Howe said. 

“[Algorithms] were created to manipulate us and use that to their advantage. People need to understand that social media can be a wonderful thing. . . . I think it provides so much connection and solidarity for people, but I think it’s important to understand that they’re using our biggest weapon — our brains — against us. We have to be willing to be intentional about challenge our viewpoints in order to solve this problem,” she said.

Inside Sources with Boyd Matheson, who is also the opinion editor of the Deseret News, can be heard weekdays from 11:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Inside Sources

Rabbi Avremi Zippel talks to the crowd during halftime of a Jazz-Portland Trail Blazers game at Viv...
Mark Jones

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Area rabbi shares his thoughts

Rabbi Avremi Zippel joined Inside Sources Friday to discuss International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
5 days ago
savings system right on the money...
Mark Jones

Economists are worried of a recession in 2023, financial expert weighs in

Many economists are fearing a recession in 2023 despite the U.S. economy ending last year better than expected.
6 days ago
BYU study finds we need to stop watering as much as we are....
Mark Jones

Speaker Wilson says Utah legislature is working hard on water issue

SALT LAKE CITY — Prior to the start of the 2023 Utah Legislative Session, it seemed like water would be a popular topic throughout the 45-day session. And a week into the session, that appears to be the case.  House speaker Brad Wilson (R-Kaysville) joined Inside Sources hosted by Maura Carabello and Taylor Morgan to […]
7 days ago
A “now hiring” sign is pictured at Salt Lake Running Company in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. ...
Curt Gresseth

Salt Lake Chamber president talks about fixing shortages in housing, labor and water in Utah

Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, joins the show to discuss three big problems facing Utah today: the housing, labor and water shortages.
8 days ago
egg cartons are pictured in a store fridge, there is currently an egg shortage...
Mark Jones

Smuggling eggs: What people will do these days to get eggs

ABC News correspondent Alex Stone tells KSL NewsRadio that he has heard reports of the smuggling of eggs into the country by citizens who live near the Mexico border.
12 days ago
The Utah Education Association is opposed to H. B. 215. The UEA says school choice and a teacher pa...
Mark Jones

UEA opposes H.B. 215, says “school choice” and teacher salaries are separate

The Utah Education Association wants a teacher pay increase with no strings attached.
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Inside Sources: Talking about confirmation bias and social-media manipulation