A journalist’s toolbox to analyze misinformation

A journalist’s toolbox to analyze misinformation

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has become an obvious example of intentional misinformation like political propaganda and unintentional misinformation like some social media posts. The International Center for Journalists´ website IJNet has published a number of tools for journalists to use to identify the misinformation.

The compilation of tools is made by lecturer and journalist Samantha Sunne and was first published on Reynold Journalism Institute at University of Missouri. A summary:

  • Journalism educator First Draft Newsin thread of tweets shares a range of tips covering images, videos, social accounts and general phrasing for reporting on high-stakes news events. They include tactics  like RevEye for reverse image searches and the Internet Archive for backing up webpages. The team also suggests creating image overlays, which add text to an image to indicate that it is fake or misleading.
  • A lot of advise is coming from social media, like this thread from Bellingcat. To save it, you can use a Twitter add-on called Thread Reader. The add-on works by just tagging @ThreadReaderAppin a reply or a quote tweet of the thread. This creates a webpage that you can bookmark for later, as well as adds it to Thread Reader’s large repository of saved threads. You can search for older threads using their search function. You do have to have a Twitter account to use Thread Reader, because you need to tweet at them. But if you connect your account, the tool gives you a dashboard where you can organize your saved threads using hashtags or your own filing system. Thread Reader archives a series of tweets. For individual tweets, you can use a tool like TweetDeck or InoReader.
  • Inoreaderis a newer tool that creates a dashboard of tweets as well as Facebook posts, Reddit subs, and Google alerts. With a Pro account you can add in Telegram and individual newsletters.
  • Fact-checking organization Full Fact has released an updated version of their Framework for Information Incidents — essentially a playbook for governments, internet companies and me Full Fact provides a template for how leadership can think and plan a response. The framework includes a glossary and incorporates research and feedback from other well-respected fact-checking organizations like Chequeado and Africa Check.
  • A similar tool is the Verification Handbook published by datajournalism.com. The Verification Handbook is a ready-to-use guide for fact-checking in any breaking news situation.
  • “There has been a huge demand for information on how mysterious Russian trolls and hackers work,” Bellingcat researcher Aric Toler wrote in a 2020 article titled “How (Not) To Report On Russian Disinformation.” Toler recommends versing yourself in Russian media outlets and assessing social accounts for bot activity before using them as sources for any kind of content. The Stanford Cyber Policy Center published its own Newsroom Playbook for Propaganda Reporting, with tools and policies that can be implemented newsroom-wide.

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