This study tackles the fake news phenomenon during the pandemic from a critical thinking perspective. It addresses the lack of systematic criteria by which to fact-check the grey area of misinformation. As a preliminary step, drawing from fallacy theory, we define what type of fake news convey misinformation. Through a data data driven approach, we then identify 10 fallacious strategies which flag misinformation and we provide a deterministic analysis method by which to recognize them. An annotation study of over 220 news articles about COVID-19 fact-checked by Snopes shows that (i) the strategies work as indicators of misinformation (ii) they are related to digital media affordances (iii) and they can be used as the backbone of more informative fact-checkers’ ratings. The results of this study are meant to help citizens to become their own fact-checkers through critical thinking and digital activism.


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Musi, E. & Reed, C. 2022, 'From fallacies to semifake news: Improving the identification of misinformation triggers across digital media', Discourse & Society. https://doi.org/10.1177/09579265221076609

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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