When are fact-checks effective? An experimental study on the inclusion of the misinformation source and the source of fact-checks in 16 European countries

Patrick van Erkel, Peter van Aelst, Claes H. de Vreese, David Nicolas Hopmann, Jörg Matthes, James Stanyer, Nicoleta Corbu

Despite increasing academic attention, several questions about fact-checking remain unanswered. First, it remains unclear to what extent fact-checks are effective across different political and media contexts. Second, we know little on whether features of the fact-check itself influence its success. Conducting an experiment in 16 European countries, this study aims to fill these gaps by examining two features of fact-checks that may affect their success: whether fact-checks include the political source of the misinformation, and the source of the fact-check itself. We find that fact-checks are successful in debunking misperceptions. Moreover, this debunking effect is consistent across countries. Looking at features of fact-checks, we find no indication that it matters whether fact-checks include the political source of the misinformation claim. Comparing fact-checks from independent organizations with those from public broadcasters, we do find, however, that who the fact-checker is matters, especially in combination with trust in this source.

Department of Communication
External organisation(s)
University of Antwerp, University of Amsterdam (UvA), University of Southern Denmark (SDU), Loughborough University, University of Bucharest
Mass Communication and Society
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
508007 Communication science
ASJC Scopus subject areas
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