Communicating Fact to Combat Fake

  • Analysis of Fact-Checking Websites
  • Anjan Pal, Cliff Loke
  • January 2019, ACM (Association for Computing Machinery)
  • DOI: 10.1145/3355402.3355415

Communicating Fact to Combat Fake: Analysis of Fact-Checking Websites

What is it about?

Online falsehood has now become a pressing problem. One way to tackle it lies in investigating the veracity of dubious claims and disseminating the facts to the online community. Several fact-checking websites (e.g., Snopes.com, FactCheck.org) are now serving the purpose of communicating facts by determining the veracity of fake news. However, the scholarly understanding of fact-checking websites is currently limited. To plug this research gap, the objective of this paper is to identify the features of fact-checking websites. For this purpose, it reviews the literature to identify possible dimensions of information work, namely, Acquisition, Disclosure, Verification, Presentation, Interaction, and Diffusion that could be associated with fact-checking websites. After that, it analyzes 22 fact-checking websites to figure out features that help manifest each dimension of information work. The relevant features are identified and discussed. The paper contributes towards developing a framework of the fact-checking websites. The findings have practical implications in terms of design strategies for such websites.

Why is it important?

The paper paves the way towards building a framework by synthesizing the literature on Information Systems (IS) and online falsehood. Moreover, it informs practitioners including website administrators and designers about interface design strategies by identifying features for the fact-checking websites.

Perspectives

Dr Anjan Pal
University of York

When dubious claims spread on the Internet, they leave behind their digital footprints. These claims not only cause unnecessary panic and anxiety among the public but also damage the social fabric of a nation and violate national sovereignty. For instance, India has been recently shaken by a spate of mob killings sparked by a hoax. Likewise, anti-vaccine rumors such as “vaccine causes autism” sparked vaccine refusals that in turn led to debilitating and fatal cases of measles outbreak in the US. Hence, falsehood prevents the Internet from serving as a reliable source of information. A dominant way to tackle the problem is to investigate the veracity of the dubious claims, and spread the facts to the online community. Several websites have emerged of late across the globe around such a fact-checking mechanism. Some of these include Snopes.com, TruthOrFiction.com, FactCheck.org, and HoaxSlayer.com. With established editorial credentials, these websites investigate the veracity of claims and refute the dubious ones. The goal is to communicate facts to the online community.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/3355402.3355415

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