Verification as Journalism

The following are notes from Verification Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Verifying Digital Content for Emergency Coverage – A great resource (pdf is free)

Verify – The process of establishing the truth, accuracy, or validity of something.

““In the end, the discipline of verification is what separates journalism from entertainment, propaganda, fiction, or art…. Journalism alone is focused first on getting what happened down right….” – Bill Kovach

“We should be more transparent about what we know and don’t know. We should actively address rumors being circulated online. Rather than pretending they’re not circulating, or that they’re not our concern, we should tackle them head-on, challenging the public to question them, scrutinize them, understand where they might have come from, and why.” – Andy Carvin

Basic Steps of Verification – Seek the 5 Ws about piece of info you encounter

1. Is this the original piece of content? (What)

2. Who uploaded the content? (Who)

3. When was the content created? (When)

4. Where was the content created? (Where)

5. What is the intent of the content? (Why)

How do you do this?

First, look for the original source of information (ie Twitter profile) and ask:

  • Does person use full name?
  • Who are they?
  • What organization or business are they connected to?
  • Is the account “verified?”
  • What other kinds of information have they shared in the past?
  • Look for their other social media accounts or websites.

Then use Search and some tools to try to confirm the information.

For example…

Use Tweetdeck to monitor Twitter. It is easier to search and build a body of evidence, rather than just seeing retweets of same information.

Be on the lookout for scams and fakes. Does it seem to good (or bad) to be true? Check it out. You don’t have to be an Eastern European hacker to create fake news. Anyone can do it with  lemmetweetthatforyou.com and Clone Zone.

Learn how to spot fake news.

Get help from the scam busters like http://www.snopes.com/.

See who owns that website using https://whois.net/,

Use reverse Image search Google Reverse Image Search and https://www.tineye.com/.

Use Geo search tool for YouTube videos to see if video was uploaded in the location it claims.

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