Original document was submitted as an honors thesis requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

Document Type



This thesis explores the topic of fake news in today's digital landscape by analyzing how young adults (18-2) form and change prior opinions based on the media they consume. I measured this by showing respondents one of two bias montages in response to Google's Project Owl initiative. Project Owl is Google's controversial attempt to regulate false or abusive news by launching new feedback forms in addition to altering their algorithm in a way the company has not yet disclosed to the public (Sullivan). Each self-edited montage is two minutes in length and together they cover two radically different responses to Project Owl: one is positioned critically against the principles behind this move by Google, and one is clearly in support of the company's project.

To test the effects of "spinning" each video to change viewers' perception of Project Owl, I developed a survey and designed a study to collect data from one-hundred people. Of the hundred people surveyed, half were randomly assigned to watch video A and half were randomly assigned to watch video B. Each participant was asked to answer a set of questions before and after watching their assigned video. The survey was designed to provide data on how their responses to Project Owl change after watching their assigned video. By using surveys that target the effects on audiences of informative video compilations that spin Project Owl, the thesis shows the manipulation of editing and short-form informational social media videos have on society more broadly.

The intricate project is especially relevant because, while President Donald Trump regularly reprimands the promotion of " fake news" through Twitter, left-wing activists argue that false information spread across the Internet contributed to the outcome of the 2016 election. These arguments from opposing sides are intensified in the 21st century age of New Media and information overload, a period in media history when the fact that the production and circulation of "news" can come from anyone, anywhere, and at any time means that the difficulty of assessing the authenticity and reliability of that information is increasing exponentially.