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Developing fake news immunity: fallacies as misinformation triggers during the pandemic

Musi, E., Aloumpi, M., Carmi, E. ORCID: 0000-0003-1108-2075 , Yates, S. & O'Halloran, K. (2022). Developing fake news immunity: fallacies as misinformation triggers during the pandemic. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies,


Misinformation constitutes one of the main challenges to counter the infodemic: misleading news, even if not blatantly false, can cause harm especially in crisis scenarios such as the pandemic. Due to the fast proliferation of information across digital media, human fact-checkers struggle to keep up with fake news, while automatic factcheckers are not able to identify the grey area of misinformation. We, thus, propose to reverse engineer the manipulation of information offering citizens the means to become their own fact-checkers through digital literacy and critical thinking. Through a corpus analysis of fact-checked news about COVID-19, we identify 10 fallacies – arguments which seem valid but are not – that systematically trigger misinformation and offer a systematic procedure to identify them. Next to fallacies, we observe the types of sources associated to (mis-/dis-)information in our dataset as well as the type of claims making up the headlines. The observation of these three levels of analysis reveals a misinformation ecosystem where developing the audience’s digital literacy is necessary to guarantee fake news immunity.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article has been accepted for publication in Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies by Bastas Publications.
Publisher Keywords: misinformation, fallacy theory, digital literacy, fact checking, multi-level annotation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
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