As I write this post, I’m waiting for a flight at Pearson International Airport reading through the incoming notifications on my mobile regarding the tragic Berlin Christmas Market lorry incident. At this point, a few deaths have already been confirmed, however judging by the verified images and videos coming from the location, there will surely be many more. There are no words that can bring these people back or console those affected, however, there are concrete steps readers/viewers like myself can take to stop the spread of false information during a time of crisis such as this, where we are all prone to react emotionally.
Before you share, like, comment, or re-tweet that next post, take a deep breath and ask yourself the following questions:
- To the best of my knowledge, am I sharing factual content?
- Could innocent people be negatively affected by what I am sharing?
- Do I genuinely feel I am helping someone by sharing this?
The raw content coming in from modern forms of social media, especially live streaming via Periscope or Facebook Live, as well as discussion on Reddit, can be overwhelming. If you can’t help it and need to be the first to share, at least arm yourself with some basic fact-checking tools. Here are some good starting points:
- Verification Junkie –> General resource listing a variety of verification tools.
- Tin Eye Reverse Image Search –> Drag and drop that “eyewitness” photo to see if it has been used before the day of the incident (hint: that means it’s fake)
- This is Fake Google Chrome Plugin –> This tool both identifies articles in your Facebook feed that intentionally spread misinformation and allows you to tell your friends when they’re sharing a fake story.
- Google Scholar Button Google Chrome Plugin –>If someone is quoting academic research, use this tool to verify its legitimacy.
- RealDonaldContext Google Chrome Plugin –> The Washington Post’s Fix team has decided to help ensure that the public receives the most accurate possible information by creating this extension, which adds more context or corrections to things that Trump tweets.