Craig Silverman says you should always ask "How do you know that?". Great way to confirm sources and track things back.
Sometimes confirming whether a source is real can be as obvious as checking someone's bio on twitter, or when the account was created. Other times it is more complicated...
More complicated ways to confirm social media sources: Evaluate their tweets before/after, look at their friends, followers and retweets. If you're looking at a tweet, see what other information you can find about the person online- use apps such as Spokeo, Pipl and WebMii for searching for a user's social media presence.
Important tool of verification: once you find the person you're trying to verify, gotta call 'em. It's useful to confirm their identity and also, of course, for stories. "They may have tweeted a photo, but have 10 others on their phone they didn't use."
"When there is flooding during a hurricane, the street shark makes an appearance"... Content on social media tends to be circulated and recycled, both real and fake stories.
The telephone is the best verification tool, period. But the Google reverse image search—and a Canadian product, TinEye—is the best online.
@Dr.NealKrawetz: Thanks, Dr. Krawetz!
Craig's talking about a lot of fun tricks: checking where shadows are in photos, and looking for inconsistencies.
Silverman is now leading the audience on a case study examining an image related to Boko Haram. After checking the source and conducting a reverse image search, his next step is to zoom in on the image, to see if you can spot any geographic markers or inconsistencies.
Case study time: Craig takes the audience through the verification process for a viral image of, allegedly, women taking up arms against Boko Haram. Reverse image search? Inconclusive. File metadata? Inconclusive. Time to look at the details.
"Hurricane Sandy was a watershed event for online fakes"- Silverman says many news organizations got burned by fakes and started becoming more careful about verifying images.
One of the guys who shared that Statue of Liberty photo found out it was fake and let his Facebook friends know about it... after it had been shared more than 100,000 times. It was shared a total of 300,000 times. "Not easy to put the genie back in the bottle," says Craig.
"Keep that journalistic skepticism, it's one of the best qualities we have" -Craig Silverman
Silverman says it is a combination of the tools that he shared, as well as good journalistic ethics and a healthy dose of skepticism that will allow you to spot fakes.