During breaking news situations, unverified information, rumors, fake photos and outright lies are unfortunately part of the process in social media. As a fact-checker, you don’t want to spread false information or spend time chasing a rumor. But how can you tell?

Here’s a “red flag” checklist to consult during a breaking news event:

  • “Answers” given too soon
  • Anonymous sources
  • News sources cite other news sources
  • Language like “We are getting reports…” or “We are seeking confirmation…”
  • Talk of “second shooter” or other speculation
  • Verify suspicious images or photos using reverse image searches or other photo-checking techniques

Taken from Fact-checking: How to Improve Your Skills in Accountability Journalism, a self-directed course by Alexios Mantzarlis and Jane Elizabeth at Poynter NewsU.

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