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How To Verify Information Online

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PHOTO CREDIT: Giulia May

The mass of information being shared online creates a mix up between misinformation and verified information, which can lead to false reports and facts being spread and understood as ‘true’. In order to help you verify information easily and become more aware of differentiating between what is true and what is false, I have created a simple and general guide just for you using journalism resources, so read on and bookmark this page for times when you are in need of verifying information online!

Journalists are skilled to have a keen eye in verifying and fact-checking information, which is a great skill for everyone in a digital environment looking at news or global coverage of something as big as the Russia and Ukraine conflict. The following advice have been provided by experts Claire Wardle, Storyful director of development and integration, Fergus Bell, Associated Press senior producer, Paul Bradshaw, course leader of online journalism MA at Birmingham City University, and Craig Silverman, founder of Regret the Error.

Monitor across platforms

It is important to check a variety of platforms of news outlets and social media to fact check all the information you are seeing, as this will show a more likelihood of finding correct information.

Spot the trends

Identifying trends is a key part of the monitoring process as well. Fergus Bell said, “I use Twitter and Hootsuite, which helps me to interpret Twitter in a way that’s most useful to me. I can be monitoring what’s going on in social media on a specific story just by having a page up on my screen and I can take that away and use that on a mobile device. People might use Tweetdeck because they find that more user friendly, it is much of a muchness, it just depends on what your preference is. I like to use Trendsmap, which helps me plug into what people are talking about in the real world, so when I’m looking at something I get some context about what I am seeing, e.g. why is this word trending in Paris and also in Newcastle? It helps me understand where I should be looking and have I identified a story that’s worth us chasing.”

Build a network

Following a network of reliable people on social media can enhance your future sources of information; because once you are sure that a particular business group or person is suitable for what you are looking for, then following then will make things easier for next time.

Verify source

If you find a piece of statistics or quotes, then try to find where they actually came from. For example, if a piece of information was taken from somewhere else, go there and double check the information.

Look at online discussions and expert comments

This is only applicable to some situations; but, if possible, it would be a good idea to see what others like you are saying or thinking, as this can help point towards whether the information is right or not. Even if this raises questions, it will help you on the right path.