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Human and technological infrastructures of fact-checking

by   Prerna Juneja, et al.
University of Washington

Increasing demands for fact-checking has led to a growing interest in developing systems and tools to automate the fact-checking process. However, such systems are limited in practice because their system design often does not take into account how fact-checking is done in the real world and ignores the insights and needs of various stakeholder groups core to the fact-checking process. This paper unpacks the fact-checking process by revealing the infrastructures – both human and technological – that support and shape fact-checking work. We interviewed 26 participants belonging to 16 fact-checking teams and organizations with representation from 4 continents. Through these interviews, we describe the human infrastructure of fact-checking by identifying and presenting, in-depth, the roles of six primary stakeholder groups, 1) Editors, 2) External fact-checkers, 3) In-house fact-checkers, 4) Investigators and researchers, 5) Social media managers, and 6) Advocators. Our findings highlight that the fact-checking process is a collaborative effort among various stakeholder groups and associated technological and informational infrastructures. By rendering visibility to the infrastructures, we reveal how fact-checking has evolved to include both short-term claims centric and long-term advocacy centric fact-checking. Our work also identifies key social and technical needs and challenges faced by each stakeholder group. Based on our findings, we suggest that improving the quality of fact-checking requires systematic changes in the civic, informational, and technological contexts.


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