Verifying User Generated Content (UGC)


1.Assume all UGC is fake until presented with enough counter-evidence (…). Merely quoting social media content and attributing it to an online username is not acceptable, according to AP guidelines.

2.Seek the original source of the information. TinEye Reverse Image Search and Advanced Google images search allows you to pull up a photo’s other appearances online (…). If the source wasn’t the initial provider of the content, it’s important to identify him or her and ask for permission to use the content (…).

3.Piece together a background of the source using all information available. “Almost all your contributors will have some kind of online footprint,” said Mark Jones, the global community editor of Reuters. The source’s Twitter bio and other associated accounts can be used not only to validate their claims but also to determine whether they have a compromising stake in the issue. Red flags for fake UGC include a low number of tweets and newly-created Twitter accounts (…). Another sign to look for is tweet spam, when a source repeatedly posts the same image or link (…).

4.Establish direct contact with the source. The “golden rule” for UGC verification: speak on the phone to the source (…). Not only will this process give the reporter more context on the photo, the response can provide valuable information on the source. “Even the process of setting up the conversation can speak volumes about the source’s credibility: unless sources are activists living in a dictatorship who must remain anonymous to protect their lives, people who are genuine witnesses to events are usually eager to talk”.

5.Look past the foreground of photographs. Some images include metadata that provides information about when and where they were taken (…). However, only the original, high-resolution file will provide this level of detail (…). But even without this data, details such as (…) license plate registrations, signs and weather can help confirm the reported time and location of the photo (…). In the case of video, the BBC also works with language specialists to ensure the dialect and accent match the location of filming (…).

6.Cross check content. It’s possible to use webcams to survey the area of the photo (…). The AP contacts local bureaus to confirm weather or specific geographic information.

7.Properly disclose UGC. The AP adds disclaimers that acknowledge no reporters were able to “independently verify the authenticity, content, location or date of this handout photo/video” when direct communication with the source is not possible (…).

8.Credit your sources. « On-screen credits or caption credits are becoming much more common across the industry, and I think that’s a real sign that people are recognising that these people deserve that credit and they’re not just someone randomly uploading a video or uploaded a photo necessarily,” Bell told