Debunking is a type of fact-checking that targets incorrect and misleading claims and widely held opinions, relevant to a community. As compared to other types of sources triangulation, debunking is a process interested in disinformation, misinformation, and viral hoaxes that may have as sources and as disseminators not only public figures, but also private individuals, online trolls and fake accounts on social media.
Debunking misinformation starts as an operation identifying an untruth or a myth that tends to become viral and may have adverse effects on a community. A debunking team uses fact-checking instruments to verify whether the piece of information is, in fact, misleading and to determine the real story behind the viral content.
A debunking publishable piece, as a presentation of correct facts, involves four components, with four different foci: (1) the debunking team presents the fact – stating what is true; (2) they warn about the myth – mentioning the misinformation only once at this stage; (3) they explain the fallacy – showing why the misinformation is wrong; and (4) the debunking team presents the fact again – stating the truth for the second and last time.
The aim of the debunking process is to warn communities and correct misleading information, erroneous claims, false rumours, or modified photos or videos.