Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award

Winter 2023

Document Type

Thesis (Ph.D.)

Department or Program

Engineering Sciences

First Advisor

Eugene Santos, Jr.


Fake news has become a serious concern as distributing misinformation has become easier and more impactful. A solution is critically required. One solution is to ban fake news, but that approach could create more problems than it solves, and would also be problematic from the beginning, as it must first be identified to be banned. We initially propose a method to automatically recognize suspected fake news, and to provide news consumers with more information as to its veracity. We suggest that fake news is comprised of two components: premises and misleading content. Fake news can be condensed down to a collection of premises, which may or may not be true, and to various forms of misleading material, including biased arguments and language, misdirection, and manipulation. Misleading content can then be exposed. While valuable, this framework’s utility may be limited by artificial intelligence, which can be used to alter fake news strategies at a rate exceeding the ability to update the framework. Therefore, we propose a model for identifying echo chambers, which are widely reported to be havens for fake news producers and consumers. We simulate a social media interest group as a gravity well, through which we identify the online groups postured to become echo chambers, and thus a source for fake news consumption and replication. This echo chamber model is supported by three pillars related to the social media group: technology employed, topic explored, and confirmation bias of group members. The model is validated by modeling and analyzing 19 subreddits on the Reddit social media platform. Contributions include a working definition for fake news, a framework for recognizing fake news, a generic model for social media echo chambers including three pillars central to echo chamber formation, and a gravity well simulation for social media groups, implemented for 19 subreddits.


Supported in part by AFOSR Grant Nos. FA9550-20-1-0032 and FA9550-22-1-002