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The Work Practices of Peer-To-Peer Counter Propaganda

Stopping Fake News: The Work Practices Of Peer-To-Peer Counter Propaganda

When faced with a state-sponsored fake news campaign propagated over social media, in a process we dub “peer-to-peer propaganda,” a group of volunteer Ukrainian journalistic activists turned fact checking into a counter-propaganda weapon. We document the history of StopFake, describe its work practices, and situate them within the literatures on fact checking and online news practices. Our study of its work practices shows that StopFake employs the online media monitoring characteristic of modern journalism, but rather than imitating new stories it applies media literacy techniques to screen out fake news and inhibit its spread. StopFake evaluates news stories for signs of falsified evidence, such as manipulated or misrepresented images and quotes, whereas traditional fact checking sites evaluate nuanced political claims but assume the accuracy of reporting. Drawing on work from science studies, we argue that attention of this kind to social processes demonstrates that scholars can acknowledge that narratives are socially constructed without having to treat all narratives as interchangeable.

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