When events are happening fast, like during last night’s protests against police violence in Minneapolis, misinformation travels fast, too. Check your sources, and don’t trust accounts whose reason for existing is simply to spread “breaking news.”
These accounts can be untrustworthy because people (and bots) often use news events to circulate misinformation—either to push an agenda, or just to game the social media algorithms for popularity’s sake. Jane Lytvynenko, a disinformation reporter at Buzzfeed, shared this example today:
You can often spot incorrect information by running the image through TinEye (the photo she highlights above is from an unrelated 2016 story), but it’s also important to ask: What is the source of this information, and why am I reading it in the first place?
When news is breaking, a lot of information will be wrong at first. To filter out the worst of it, I like to look to journalists and publications who are local to the breaking event. For example, here’s a thread of people who are on the ground in Minneapolis, collected by a reporter who lives there:
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Following local sources won’t guarantee that everything you read is true, but at least you know who they are and why they’re tweeting. Breaking news from other sources can be a lot more hit-or-miss, so always check where it’s coming from, and when in doubt don’t share information until it’s been confirmed by at least one reliable source.