City Research Online

The weird governance of fact-checking: from watchdogs to content moderators

Vinhas, O. & Bastos, M. ORCID: 0000-0003-0480-1078 (2023). The weird governance of fact-checking: from watchdogs to content moderators. In: AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research. The 24th Annual Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers, 18-21 Oct 2023, Philadelphia, PA, USA. doi: 10.5210/spir.v2023i0.13513


In this work, we chart the multiple conflicts between stakeholders in the pursuit of a common standard for fact-checking outside Western Industrialized Educated Rich and Educated (WEIRD) countries, a problem that sits at the center of the institutional mission of fact-checkers as watchdogs of politicians and enforcers of content moderation. We apply reflexive thematic analysis to a set of interviews with 37 fact-checking experts from 35 organizations in 27 countries to catalogue the methods employed by fact-checkers and the pressures they contend with in non-WEIRD countries. In contrast to the one-size-fits-all approach to community guidelines implemented by social platforms worldwide, our results show that the asymmetric relationship with platform companies compels fact-checkers to adjust their methods and strategies to account for the political and cultural dimensions driving mis- and disinformation in their local contexts. Our findings detail three ways through which social platforms impinge on the scope, values, and institutional mission of non-WEIRD fact-checking organizations. As we argue, the platformization of non-WEIRD fact-checkers entails a convoluted process in which social media platforms gradually nudge fact-checkers into becoming part of the content moderation industry, a shift that runs counter to the democracy-building values underpinning the fact-checking movement. We conclude with a discussion of our findings and recommendations for content moderation both in WEIRD and non-WEIRD contexts.

Publication Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: This article has been originally published in AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research and it's available online at:
Publisher Keywords: fact-checking, misinformation, non-WEIRD, platformization, content moderation
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity
School of Communication & Creativity > Media, Culture & Creative Industries
SWORD Depositor:
[thumbnail of Vinhas_Bastos.pdf]
Text - Accepted Version
Download (273kB) | Preview


Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login