Bots, disinformation and trolls make it difficult to identify information as true or false on social media. Despite the danger of relying on a well placed false report, about 67% of Americans obtain at least some of their news from social media platforms. Just being aware of misleading tweets and posts is not enough. Here is how I try to get true news from social media.
Following journalists and classic news media
Digitalization has forced news broadcasters and newspapers to adapt. They have developed a set of technologies and processes to identify real social media postings and false information. They put an amount of effort and resource into vetting sources and information, that I cannot provide. In case of a huge news story, I would rely on those publications and on posts, they use for their coverage. This posting was used by the New York Times, when they reported about the Las Vegas Shooting last October.
— Evan Schreiber (@SchreiberEvan) October 2, 2017
Identifying official accounts
In times of social media it can be interesting or even necessary to get informations directly from the source. In case of an emergency, I would try to identify official accounts of relevant players of the situation. If a professional communicator is responsibly for the social media accounts of a institution, this is not hard to do. The link to their accounts on their websites. The main social media platforms also vet and verify official account on request. This example showcases, how the Las Vegas Police Departement informed the public via Twitter after a shooting in 2017.
Confirming that one suspect is down. This is an active investigation. Again, please do not head down to the Strip at this time.
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) October 2, 2017
As already mentioned, it takes a lot of effort to identify real information on social media. Even major publications make mistakes and get misled by tweets with false content. News drawn from social media always have to be supplemented by serious and professional publications and updates.