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Verifying user generated
content in a crisis –
Sifting fact from fiction
Stuart Bruce FCIPR
@stuartbruce
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Why verification matters
• You need to verify the user generated conte...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Explosion at Columbia Chemicals
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Columbian Chemicals explosion
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
ISIS claims responsibility for attack
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
None of it was true
• Two hours later Columbian Chemicals issued news ...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Sifting fact from rumour
In a crisis social networks are overloaded wi...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Why it might not be true
• Organised groups have the power to spread d...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Good journalists know that
“If your mother says she
loves you, check i...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Get the full picture
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Most important part is
Before
Crisis
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Before the crisis
• Have a plan…
• … but make sure it is current and h...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Verify everything
“Associated Press has always strived to find the ori...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Check the provenance
1. Confirm the source
2. Confirm the date
3. Conf...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Confirming the source
• Can you find them on other social networks?
• ...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Confirming the date
• Use Wolfgram Alpha to cross-reference weather on...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Verifying images and videos
• Reverse image searches
• Visual clues:
•...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Reverse image searches
• Google Images or TinEye
• Search by uploaded ...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Wikimapia – crowdsourced map descriptions
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Echosec – location based search
• Real-time results
• Twitter, Instagr...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
And remember
• All digital media is easily duplicated, altered and dis...
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Additional resources
@stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu
Any questions?
Blog www.stuartbruce.biz
Company www.stuartbruce.eu
Twi...
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Verifying facts for PR | If your mother says she loves, check it out

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Why it is important for PR professionals to verify facts from social media and social networks - and the tools and techniques they can use to verify the facts.
Originally created for a Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) workshop in London on crisis communications and issues management.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Verifying facts for PR | If your mother says she loves, check it out

  1. 1. Verifying user generated content in a crisis – Sifting fact from fiction Stuart Bruce FCIPR @stuartbruce
  2. 2. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Why verification matters • You need to verify the user generated content that you’re monitoring in order to make informed decisions: • Operational • Communications • Your own information needs to be verifiable as reputable media will verify it
  3. 3. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Explosion at Columbia Chemicals
  4. 4. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Columbian Chemicals explosion
  5. 5. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu ISIS claims responsibility for attack
  6. 6. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu None of it was true • Two hours later Columbian Chemicals issued news release saying it was false • New York Times claims it was: • “highly coordinated disinformation campaign, involving dozens of fake accounts that posted hundreds of tweets” • Accuses the Internet Research Agency in St Petersburg • Read the full account at sbpr.co/1NYKpeE
  7. 7. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Sifting fact from rumour In a crisis social networks are overloaded with situational updates. Some updates are vital facts, others rumours.
  8. 8. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Why it might not be true • Organised groups have the power to spread disinformation • People lie maliciously • People innocently pass on misinformation • Fear breeds rumours • Might not have the full picture • People forget and exaggerate memories • Don’t understand or can’t place in context • Authority figures who should know, might not
  9. 9. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Good journalists know that “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”
  10. 10. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Get the full picture
  11. 11. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Most important part is Before Crisis
  12. 12. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Before the crisis • Have a plan… • … but make sure it is current and has been robustly tested • Have a suitable social presence and digital media platform • Identify potential influencers, allies and detractors in advance • Establish reputation and trust • Prepare you ‘war room’ • Understand new search and research methods and new tools
  13. 13. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Verify everything “Associated Press has always strived to find the original sources” Fergus Bell, AP • Always ask how do you know? • And remember the five Ws • Who, What, Where, When, Why
  14. 14. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Check the provenance 1. Confirm the source 2. Confirm the date 3. Confirm the location It’s a process. Clues from one tool, lead you to another tool.
  15. 15. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Confirming the source • Can you find them on other social networks? • Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Swarm • How active are they and what is their history of usage? • Does their account biography link to anywhere else? • Is it a real profile picture? • Who are their followers, contacts and friends? • Who do they interact with? • Are they on any lists? • On personal profiles fakers Photoshop a blue verification check mark to the cover photo to make it appear legitimate • TIP: Hover cursor over it to see ‘Verified Page’ pop-up • Can you find real world contact information? • TIP: Spokeo, WebMii, Pipl
  16. 16. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Confirming the date • Use Wolfgram Alpha to cross-reference weather on a specific date • YouTube date stamps videos using Pacific Standard Time • TIP: Use Amnesty International’s YouTube DataViewer to find upload and thumbnail creation times • EXIF metadata – dimensions of original image, make and model of camera, timestamp (manufacturer’s settings or wrong time zone) • TIP: Foroforensics.com or Findexif.com
  17. 17. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Verifying images and videos • Reverse image searches • Visual clues: • Weather conditions • Landmarks, shops and buildings • Signage, lettering and license plates on vehicles • Clothing • Shadows • GPS data • Historical images from Google Earth • Ask source for additional images
  18. 18. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Reverse image searches • Google Images or TinEye • Search by uploaded image or image URL
  19. 19. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Wikimapia – crowdsourced map descriptions
  20. 20. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Echosec – location based search • Real-time results • Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, Sina Weibo and more • Used by blue light emergency services • Geofeedia is alternative
  21. 21. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu And remember • All digital media is easily duplicated, altered and distributed
  22. 22. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Additional resources
  23. 23. @stuartbruce www.stuartbruce.biz www.stuartbruce.eu Any questions? Blog www.stuartbruce.biz Company www.stuartbruce.eu Twitter @stuartbruce Flipboard Future of PR sbpr.co/sbprnews

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