Maciej Grzenkowicz | Tik-Tok, it’s time for the truth! The multimodal language of fact-checking on TikTok

Maciej Grzenkowicz | Tik-Tok, it’s time for the truth! The multimodal language of fact-checking on TikTok | University of Groningen | Promotores: John Hoeks, Jan Albert van Laar | Supervisors: Janina Wildfeuer, Jan Albert van Laar | 1 October 2022 – 1 October 2026 | m.n.grzenkowicz[at]rug.nl
In my project, I am analysing the fact-checking accounts on TikTok in order to understand the specifics of multimodal argumentation on the social media platform and the argumentative strategies used by the fact-checkers. Even though TikTok is one of the most downloaded applications in the world, there have been little efforts to fight mis- and disinformation, which are omnipresent in the platform. One of the few groups of people that address this issue is fact-checkers. They use the possibilities provided by TikTok to convey complicated arguments in an unlikely form of a short video. Their posts are unique in their striving to construct a dialogue abiding by the rules of critical discussion, much like traditional journalism, but in a very different environment and for a different audience. My main research question is: How do the fact-checkers use TikTok’s affordances to address the fake news’ rhetoric and arguments? I will answer it by analyzing a corpus of fact-checking videos produced in different cultural contexts to describe the methods and practices of debunking the so-called ‘fake news’. To do so, I will construct a framework for the multimodal study of TikTok, as well as for the analysis of multimodal argumentation on the application. The outcome of the research will be a dictionary of strategic devices used by the fact-checkers in their argumentative discourses on TikTok.