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Digital Infrastructures of COVID-19 Misinformation: a new conceptual and analytical perspective on fact-checking

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Fact-checking databases, as important results of fact checkers’ epistemic work, are increasingly tied together in new overarching
infrastructures, but these are understudied and lack transparency
despite being an important societal baseline for whether claims
are false. This article conceptualizes fact-checking as infrastructure
and constructs a mixed-methods approach to examine overlaps
and differences and thereby detect biases to increase transparency in COVID-19 misinformation infrastructure at scale. Analyzing
Poynter and Google as such overarching infrastructures, we found
only a small overlap. Fewer fact-checkers contribute to Google,
with fewer stories than to Poynter. 75% of claims in Google are
fact-checked by Asian and North American fact-checkers (44% for
Poynter) but none by South Americans (20% for Poynter). More
stories in Poynter originate from Facebook than outside social
media (43% vs. 17%), while Google shows the opposite (16% vs.
38%). In Google, claims originate to a larger extent from public
persons. We find similar large topics on “statistics” and “cures,”
but also differences regarding smaller topics (e.g., “vaccines”) and
types of misinformation (e.g., “virus characteristics”). Thus, the article shows that the infrastructures have inherent biases and argue
that making visible such biases will increase transparency for
stakeholders using it.
TidsskriftDigital Journalism
Sider (fra-til)738-760
Antal sider23
StatusUdgivet - 2022

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