ARTICLE: Verifying information from social media

Journalists largely depend on traditional methods of verification when checking information originating from social media, write Petter Bae Brandtzaeg, Marika Lüders, Asbjørn Følstad, all of the research company SINTEF, Jochen Spangenberg and Linda Rath-Wiggins, both of the broadcaster Deutsche Welle (names not in original order).

The team interviewed 24 journalists, mostly from Germany and Norway, with additional interviewees from Denmark, United Kingdom and France. The authors found that most journalist fall back to what they termed “traditional” values and practices – prudent verification, preferably through phone-calls or face-to-face interviews. Some of the more skilled journalists were able to incorporate modern tools of verification, such as image recognition software, but this was beyond most.

Despite similarities, there are no universally adopted strategies to verifying social media information, the authors note. Yet the use and verification of leads from social media is increasingly important to journalists. Considering the dwindling resources of newsrooms, new and more efficient, but still waterproof, verification routines are desperately needed, the authors conclude.

The results were published as an online-first article of the journal Journalism Practice, which can be accessed here (abstract public).

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