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PLUG &
PLAY NEWS
Sourcing, verifying and
disseminating information in a real-
time crisis
2022 update
Hello!
@MaliciaRogue
@TetyUAna
@NikiBGD
Informing the public
Analysis
Explaining context
Journalism has(n’t) changed
Collaboration
Sources
Dissemination
Because the general public now has access to sources directly via
social media and other online channels, audiences have become
content creators and information distributors themselves. For correct
and timely information, the basic rules of journalism still apply.
New(s) sources
Dubbed the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’, on January 15, 2009, US Airways
Flight 1549 took off from New York City's LaGuardia Airport and was
quickly forced to make an emergency landing. Pilots Chesley "Sully"
Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles glided the plane safely on the Hudson
River, just off Midtown Manhattan. Civilian Janis Krums was on a
commuter ferry on the Hudson River and snapped a photo of the
plane, which he then posted to Twitter. News outlets quickly picked it
up, verified the image, contacted Krums for more information, and
went live with the story. This was the first example of citizen journalism
going viral on social media.
Warning: graphic images in next slide
Real-time Revolution
Iran, June 20, 2009 - Death of Neda Agha-Soltan
On 12 June, 2009, the results of the Iranian presidential election results
immediately caused discord between the government and the opposition.
This sparked anti-government protests, which social media users on the
ground in Iran eagerly broadcast to the world.
On June 20, Tehran university student Neda Agha-Soltan joined the
peaceful protests and was shot by an army sniper. Agha-Soltan died within
seconds and her death was filmed and posted to social media.
The tragedy and Agha-Soltan became iconic in the struggle of Iranian
protesters and was seen across the world. Suddenly, the plight of the Iranian
protesters was more relatable, more human, and closer to home. The
world’s perspective on who Iranians are changed forever..
June-July, 2009 - The world sees a different Iran
Changed Perspectives
1.
Sourcing
information in
a real-time
crisis
Traditional media
Social media
‘Human intelligence’
Where do I get the
information?
Authoritative opinion
First-hand accounts
▣Know your social networks
Topic-specific Facebook Groups, Twitter, and other more public online
channels are better than your personal news feed. Take note of which
networks are popular among the relevant groups or location of the event.
▣Identify key actors
Things to look for in identifying valid sources: Are they in the location of the
news event / crisis? Are they experts on the topic? Are they using their full /
real name? Do they display a website and more information in their bio?
▣Look for users on the ground
A great way to get robust, varied information is to look for social media users
who are in the location of the event / crisis. Use online tools to verify the
location of the images and posts.
▣Engage
Refrain from making assumptions or your own interpretations. Ask sources
clarifying questions.
How to find sources on social
media?
Twitter & Instagram
Hashtags are useful in the beginning of a
crisis. As events evolve, Twitter becomes
overwhelming and confusing.
▣ determine scale of events
▣ spot key users and related hashtags
▣ use for search for initial sourcing, then create and
follow relevant, verified lists and aggregators
Over 8,000 tweets per hour
22 November, 2013
141,000 followers within days
@euromaidan (@EuroMaydan, @EuroMaydan_eng)
Nearly 9,000 tweets per hour
1 December, 2013
On November 21, 2013, a wave of demonstrations began in Ukraine against the
pro-Russian Yanukovych government, dubbed Euromaidan. Stats for the
main #euromaidan hashtag in Ukrainian demonstrate the scale of events on
two key dates (the first big pro-European protest and a day after violent police
crackdown on protest camp)
Language barrier - no longer a
problem (?)
▣ Instead of using automatic online translation, like Google
Translate, find trusted sources who speak the language and
are already translating news from the ground.
▣Hashtags are less useful
Though hashtags can still be followed at the beginning of an
event / crisis, hashtags aren’t very popular on Facebook.
▣Identify key actors
Follow (no need to send a friend request) key actors’
personal profiles for public updates, as well as Facebook
pages of key individuals and organizations.
▣Follow ‘official’ pages & events
Facebook Pages and Events are frequently used for
announcing or organizing protests, as well as for Facebook
Live events that bring together topical or local experts to
discuss an event / crisis. Twitter now also has Spaces for
similar audio live streaming..
Facebook (and Twitter)
▣Before sharing content
If you are sharing content created by others, make sure you
have verified the source and double-checked the
information. Trusted sources also make mistakes.
▣Curate info and publish your own views
It is entirely okay to have an opinion of your own. But make
sure that opinion is based on established facts and does not
endanger anyone or exacerbate the crisis.
▣Reference sources
If and when you use quotes, images or established facts you
have sourced from others, absolutely and always make sure
to reference those sources somewhere in your original
content.
Crowdsourcing content
2.
Verifying
information in
a real-time
crisis
Be skeptical. Be patient.
□Know the context
Study the background of the situation. Use encyclopaedic or scholarly
sources, not media sources, for this. Wikipedia isn’t the best source, but it’s a
start.
□Watch live streams from on the ground
□Though possible, live streamed video is more difficult to manipulate, fake
or stage.
□Media diversity
□Whatever your opinion, take a moment every now and then to read
opposing opinion and do some fact checking.
‘Digital innocence’
is not an excuse
How sure are you that
the information is real?
Do your own research. Really.
□Curated news feed
Once you’ve curated and collected reliable, direct sources in your own news
feed, you should have news delivered straight to your feed from the ground
of the event / crisis.
□Link repository
In research (and journalism) a repository is a collection of relevant
documents and files collected during research. Create a repository of your
own of links to media, blogs, user profiles, and other documents that you
can revisit anytime.
□Connect with experts
Connect with trusted sources on the ground, activists, journalists, and
others on social media to ask questions, discuss, and get involved.
Pics or it didn’t
happen (sort of)
How sure are you that the
image is real?
▣ Remember the 5Ws + 1H ▣ Image verification tools
□ Google Reverse Image
Search (find original and
similar images)
□ TinEye (find original image,
compare)
□ Jeffrey’s Exif Viewer
(metadata if it exists)
□ FotoForensics (hidden
pixels, ELA, metadata)
□ inVID Verification Plugin
(video and image
verification)
□ Amnesty Int’l YouTube
Data Viewer (self-
explanatory)
Do these accounts belong to real
people?
▣ When was the account created?
▣ Is there a profile photo of a real person?
▣ What background information
is available?
Location
Relationships
Contacts
▣ Are there any associated accounts?
Blog / Personal website / Company website
LinkedIn or other social media presence
?
On May 2, 2014, 48 people died in a fire in the Trade Union building in Odessa
during disturbances in the city. Russian propaganda quickly distorted facts,
declaring the tragedy a ‘massacre’. ‘Witnesses’ soon began appearing on social
media.
Fake ‘witness’ warning signs:
▣ account created only 16 hours earlier
▣ profile photo belongs to someone else (not original)
▣ actively shared through popular resources
▣ identical translations into several languages
How to spot
a social media fake?
Case: Odessa, May 2, 2014,
Tragedy ‘Witness’ Account
3.
Disseminating
information in
a real-time
crisis
Correct information,
wrong time
In an ongoing crisis situation, information moves quickly and facts can
change. Some information should be pinned and amplified
throughout the crisis. Other, more ‘temporary’ information could
endanger lives and lead to tragic misinformation.
▣ If sharing of urgent notices and warnings continues
after timestamp / relevancy
▣ If calls-to-action remain online when action is no
longer needed or even dangerous
▣ If officials’ remarks regarding a past crisis are
reposted in a new crisis
Delete or update irrelevant or outdated
information, as it may have direct negative
impact on situation on the ground in a
crisis.
Civilian-organized information
verification and dissemination poplave.rs:
▣ identities of all involved volunteers were vetted
▣ separate Skype groups created for separate flood, aid and
rescue-related topics
▣ closed Facebook Group created for volunteer fact-checkers to
check information and verify sources
▣ fact-checkers assessed and ensured need for (or removal of)
information is communicated ASAP to both team and public
Real-time in practice
Case: Serbia, 13 May – 27 May, 2014,
Historical Southeast Europe Floods
Timely information in a crisis
□ 2866 fact-
checked reports
mapped and
disseminated on
social media, blog,
and to media
□ 1456 individuals’
evacuations
assisted (560
children)
□ 1.5 million unique
website visitors
Created overnight when the floods began, the efforts of
some 60 volunteers of poplave.rs over two weeks
resulted in:
Lessons from poplave.rs
▣ assign tasks and roles among volunteers
▣ define communication channels
▣ organize in shifts, know where everyone is
▣ define what each tool and channel is used for
▣ identify reliable contacts on the ground
▣ connect and work with official organizations such as Red
Cross, media, relevant government agencies
Key takeaways
▣ Look for the right people in right places
▣ Assume it’s fake until proven otherwise
▣ Beware the limits of technology
□ choose low tech solutions in disaster context
□ verification / sources on the ground are crucial
▣ Right info, right time, right platform
Source, verify, publish
KEEP LISTENING.
KEEP
DOUBTING.
KEEP CHECKING.
KEEP LEARNING.
KEEP SHARING.

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Plug & Play News: Sourcing and Verifying News Online in 2022

  • 1. PLUG & PLAY NEWS Sourcing, verifying and disseminating information in a real- time crisis 2022 update
  • 3. Informing the public Analysis Explaining context Journalism has(n’t) changed Collaboration Sources Dissemination Because the general public now has access to sources directly via social media and other online channels, audiences have become content creators and information distributors themselves. For correct and timely information, the basic rules of journalism still apply.
  • 4. New(s) sources Dubbed the ‘Miracle on the Hudson’, on January 15, 2009, US Airways Flight 1549 took off from New York City's LaGuardia Airport and was quickly forced to make an emergency landing. Pilots Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles glided the plane safely on the Hudson River, just off Midtown Manhattan. Civilian Janis Krums was on a commuter ferry on the Hudson River and snapped a photo of the plane, which he then posted to Twitter. News outlets quickly picked it up, verified the image, contacted Krums for more information, and went live with the story. This was the first example of citizen journalism going viral on social media.
  • 5. Warning: graphic images in next slide Real-time Revolution Iran, June 20, 2009 - Death of Neda Agha-Soltan On 12 June, 2009, the results of the Iranian presidential election results immediately caused discord between the government and the opposition. This sparked anti-government protests, which social media users on the ground in Iran eagerly broadcast to the world. On June 20, Tehran university student Neda Agha-Soltan joined the peaceful protests and was shot by an army sniper. Agha-Soltan died within seconds and her death was filmed and posted to social media. The tragedy and Agha-Soltan became iconic in the struggle of Iranian protesters and was seen across the world. Suddenly, the plight of the Iranian protesters was more relatable, more human, and closer to home. The world’s perspective on who Iranians are changed forever..
  • 6. June-July, 2009 - The world sees a different Iran Changed Perspectives
  • 8. Traditional media Social media ‘Human intelligence’ Where do I get the information? Authoritative opinion First-hand accounts
  • 9. ▣Know your social networks Topic-specific Facebook Groups, Twitter, and other more public online channels are better than your personal news feed. Take note of which networks are popular among the relevant groups or location of the event. ▣Identify key actors Things to look for in identifying valid sources: Are they in the location of the news event / crisis? Are they experts on the topic? Are they using their full / real name? Do they display a website and more information in their bio? ▣Look for users on the ground A great way to get robust, varied information is to look for social media users who are in the location of the event / crisis. Use online tools to verify the location of the images and posts. ▣Engage Refrain from making assumptions or your own interpretations. Ask sources clarifying questions. How to find sources on social media?
  • 10. Twitter & Instagram Hashtags are useful in the beginning of a crisis. As events evolve, Twitter becomes overwhelming and confusing. ▣ determine scale of events ▣ spot key users and related hashtags ▣ use for search for initial sourcing, then create and follow relevant, verified lists and aggregators
  • 11. Over 8,000 tweets per hour 22 November, 2013 141,000 followers within days @euromaidan (@EuroMaydan, @EuroMaydan_eng) Nearly 9,000 tweets per hour 1 December, 2013 On November 21, 2013, a wave of demonstrations began in Ukraine against the pro-Russian Yanukovych government, dubbed Euromaidan. Stats for the main #euromaidan hashtag in Ukrainian demonstrate the scale of events on two key dates (the first big pro-European protest and a day after violent police crackdown on protest camp)
  • 12. Language barrier - no longer a problem (?) ▣ Instead of using automatic online translation, like Google Translate, find trusted sources who speak the language and are already translating news from the ground.
  • 13. ▣Hashtags are less useful Though hashtags can still be followed at the beginning of an event / crisis, hashtags aren’t very popular on Facebook. ▣Identify key actors Follow (no need to send a friend request) key actors’ personal profiles for public updates, as well as Facebook pages of key individuals and organizations. ▣Follow ‘official’ pages & events Facebook Pages and Events are frequently used for announcing or organizing protests, as well as for Facebook Live events that bring together topical or local experts to discuss an event / crisis. Twitter now also has Spaces for similar audio live streaming.. Facebook (and Twitter)
  • 14. ▣Before sharing content If you are sharing content created by others, make sure you have verified the source and double-checked the information. Trusted sources also make mistakes. ▣Curate info and publish your own views It is entirely okay to have an opinion of your own. But make sure that opinion is based on established facts and does not endanger anyone or exacerbate the crisis. ▣Reference sources If and when you use quotes, images or established facts you have sourced from others, absolutely and always make sure to reference those sources somewhere in your original content. Crowdsourcing content
  • 16. Be skeptical. Be patient. □Know the context Study the background of the situation. Use encyclopaedic or scholarly sources, not media sources, for this. Wikipedia isn’t the best source, but it’s a start. □Watch live streams from on the ground □Though possible, live streamed video is more difficult to manipulate, fake or stage. □Media diversity □Whatever your opinion, take a moment every now and then to read opposing opinion and do some fact checking. ‘Digital innocence’ is not an excuse
  • 17. How sure are you that the information is real? Do your own research. Really. □Curated news feed Once you’ve curated and collected reliable, direct sources in your own news feed, you should have news delivered straight to your feed from the ground of the event / crisis. □Link repository In research (and journalism) a repository is a collection of relevant documents and files collected during research. Create a repository of your own of links to media, blogs, user profiles, and other documents that you can revisit anytime. □Connect with experts Connect with trusted sources on the ground, activists, journalists, and others on social media to ask questions, discuss, and get involved.
  • 18. Pics or it didn’t happen (sort of)
  • 19. How sure are you that the image is real? ▣ Remember the 5Ws + 1H ▣ Image verification tools □ Google Reverse Image Search (find original and similar images) □ TinEye (find original image, compare) □ Jeffrey’s Exif Viewer (metadata if it exists) □ FotoForensics (hidden pixels, ELA, metadata) □ inVID Verification Plugin (video and image verification) □ Amnesty Int’l YouTube Data Viewer (self- explanatory)
  • 20. Do these accounts belong to real people? ▣ When was the account created? ▣ Is there a profile photo of a real person? ▣ What background information is available? Location Relationships Contacts ▣ Are there any associated accounts? Blog / Personal website / Company website LinkedIn or other social media presence ?
  • 21. On May 2, 2014, 48 people died in a fire in the Trade Union building in Odessa during disturbances in the city. Russian propaganda quickly distorted facts, declaring the tragedy a ‘massacre’. ‘Witnesses’ soon began appearing on social media. Fake ‘witness’ warning signs: ▣ account created only 16 hours earlier ▣ profile photo belongs to someone else (not original) ▣ actively shared through popular resources ▣ identical translations into several languages How to spot a social media fake? Case: Odessa, May 2, 2014, Tragedy ‘Witness’ Account
  • 23. Correct information, wrong time In an ongoing crisis situation, information moves quickly and facts can change. Some information should be pinned and amplified throughout the crisis. Other, more ‘temporary’ information could endanger lives and lead to tragic misinformation. ▣ If sharing of urgent notices and warnings continues after timestamp / relevancy ▣ If calls-to-action remain online when action is no longer needed or even dangerous ▣ If officials’ remarks regarding a past crisis are reposted in a new crisis Delete or update irrelevant or outdated information, as it may have direct negative impact on situation on the ground in a crisis.
  • 24. Civilian-organized information verification and dissemination poplave.rs: ▣ identities of all involved volunteers were vetted ▣ separate Skype groups created for separate flood, aid and rescue-related topics ▣ closed Facebook Group created for volunteer fact-checkers to check information and verify sources ▣ fact-checkers assessed and ensured need for (or removal of) information is communicated ASAP to both team and public Real-time in practice Case: Serbia, 13 May – 27 May, 2014, Historical Southeast Europe Floods
  • 25. Timely information in a crisis □ 2866 fact- checked reports mapped and disseminated on social media, blog, and to media □ 1456 individuals’ evacuations assisted (560 children) □ 1.5 million unique website visitors Created overnight when the floods began, the efforts of some 60 volunteers of poplave.rs over two weeks resulted in:
  • 26. Lessons from poplave.rs ▣ assign tasks and roles among volunteers ▣ define communication channels ▣ organize in shifts, know where everyone is ▣ define what each tool and channel is used for ▣ identify reliable contacts on the ground ▣ connect and work with official organizations such as Red Cross, media, relevant government agencies
  • 28. ▣ Look for the right people in right places ▣ Assume it’s fake until proven otherwise ▣ Beware the limits of technology □ choose low tech solutions in disaster context □ verification / sources on the ground are crucial ▣ Right info, right time, right platform Source, verify, publish

Editor's Notes

  1. Rayna
  2. People believe images more Images are relatively easy to manipulate
  3. Rayna
  4. Frequently, we we try to verify social media content, we are faced with having to verify the identity of the users that generate it. Here, an important question to ask ourselves is do the account look like they belong to ‘real’ people. pipl.com, Facebook search, LinkedIn But even w/o the tools, you would not believe how much information about themselves people are sharing online!
  5. In Ukraine we have not only faced some accidental fake, but have also come across rather well-organized misinformation attempts. A case of a fake Odessa May 2 tragedy ‘witness’ account is a good example of such an attempt. Thus, as an aftermath of Euromaidan uprising in Kyiv, clashes between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters took place on the streets of a Southern city of Odessa. The clashes culminated outside Odesa Trade Unions building, which then caught fire under unclear circumstances. As a result of the fire, over 40 pro-Russian activists that barricaded in the building had died. Shortly after the tragedy, a Facebook post by an alleged emergency room doctor Igor Rogosovsky, who supposedly tried to provide medical aid to the injured inside the Trade Unions Bldng had began making rounds on Facebook. Acc to the doctor’s account, he’d been prevented from tending to the dying person by the pro-Ukrainain “combatants”, who then threatened him and other Jews of Odesa with physical violence. This horrifying story has been shared over 2,000 times in just 15 hrs and continued gaining popularity. However, upon examining it closer, some users have noted that an account of alleged emergency room doctor has been set up only 16hrs earlier and contained no other information about his life in Odesa before May 2014 events. Moreover, a simple search revealed that his profile photo has actually belonged to another doctor - a dentist from Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Russia. Other ‘warning signs’ about the content included it being actively shared through popular groups and pages, and, when it became popular enough, translations into different languages had been shared on international media pages and news sites. The story was also shared in Jewish online communities and in comment sections on news sites. Curiously, the translations into different languages shared by different users were seemingly identical. Whoever was behind this fake was interested in aiding a narrative popular with Russian and other foreign media that often painted EuroMaidan protesters as far-right radicals. The page of the alleged doctor from Odesa has since been removed. http://blogs.pravda.com.ua/authors/savanevsky/5365f834c31e7/
  6. In Ukraine we have not only faced some accidental fake, but have also come across rather well-organized misinformation attempts. A case of a fake Odessa May 2 tragedy ‘witness’ account is a good example of such an attempt. Thus, as an aftermath of Euromaidan uprising in Kyiv, clashes between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters took place on the streets of a Southern city of Odessa. The clashes culminated outside Odesa Trade Unions building, which then caught fire under unclear circumstances. As a result of the fire, over 40 pro-Russian activists that barricaded in the building had died. Shortly after the tragedy, a Facebook post by an alleged emergency room doctor Igor Rogosovsky, who supposedly tried to provide medical aid to the injured inside the Trade Unions Bldng had began making rounds on Facebook. Acc to the doctor’s account, he’d been prevented from tending to the dying person by the pro-Ukrainain “combatants”, who then threatened him and other Jews of Odesa with physical violence. This horrifying story has been shared over 2,000 times in just 15 hrs and continued gaining popularity. However, upon examining it closer, some users have noted that an account of alleged emergency room doctor has been set up only 16hrs earlier and contained no other information about his life in Odesa before May 2014 events. Moreover, a simple search revealed that his profile photo has actually belonged to another doctor - a dentist from Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Russia. Other ‘warning signs’ about the content included it being actively shared through popular groups and pages, and, when it became popular enough, translations into different languages had been shared on international media pages and news sites. The story was also shared in Jewish online communities and in comment sections on news sites. Curiously, the translations into different languages shared by different users were seemingly identical. Whoever was behind this fake was interested in aiding a narrative popular with Russian and other foreign media that often painted EuroMaidan protesters as far-right radicals. The page of the alleged doctor from Odesa has since been removed. http://blogs.pravda.com.ua/authors/savanevsky/5365f834c31e7/