The impact of COVID-19 across the world has increased people’s anxiety as well as quest for information. People want to know the latest news and developing issues about the pandemic. Media outlets and their journalists, in their bid to serve the public’s interest, are also trying to break news faster and feed their audiences.
The pressure to break news and other developments about the pandemic as they evolve should, however, not compromise the journalists’ responsibility to provide accurate information to the public. The onus lies on them to do proper verification and crosscheck facts before reporting especially now that there is so much misinformation and fake news about the pandemic.
To make the verification and cross-checking processes relatively easier for journalists, the fact-checking team has put together the following four online resources to help journalists verify information before publishing.
Tineye.com is a great reverse image search engine that helps in establishing the authenticity of images. It helps in verifying the real source(s) of images, how it has been used, how many times it has been modified, and the various versions of the image that exist. Sometimes, it can be used to find higher resolution versions and ‘photoshopped’ versions as well. Tineye uses image recognition technology rather than keywords, metadata or watermarks.
Journalists can, therefore, use Tineye to verify COVID-19 images in circulation before using them for their news reports.
InVID is a platform that helps in detecting, authenticating and checking the reliability and accuracy of newsworthy and other video content that are spread via social media. It provides the meta data of videos and this helps in tracing when a particular video initially appeared online and their possible source. It also helps in dealing with copyright issues about videos. In these times that videos on anything and everything, including COVID-19, are going viral on social media, InVID could be a great resource in checking the veracity of such videos.
- Facebook Page Transparency
Facebook? Yes. Facebook. It is undeniable that a lot of misinformation and fake news start from there, but the good news is that, the same platform can be used to debunk or verify them. The Facebook Page Transparency helps in determining when a page was created, where it was created from, and the frequency of the page’s activities. So, where in doubt about the authenticity of a page and/or its content, use Facebook Page Transparency to check the aforementioned indicators.
- Trusted Sources
A number of sources are cited in pieces of information shared about COVID-19, including some fake news items. Crosschecking the authenticity of such sources and whether the information attributed to them is accurate or otherwise will go a long way to ensure that accurate information about the pandemic is served to the public. It is, therefore, advisable to use trustworthy sources in newsgathering and reporting especially about COVID-19. Below are some recommended sources that could be used in newsgathering about the pandemic.
- World health Organization (WHO)
- Your Country’s Health Ministry or Health Service Directorate (e.g. Ghana Health Service web and social media pages for those in Ghana or working on Ghana)
- John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
- Websites of government agencies across the world.
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- UNESCO Resource Center for COVID-19
It is also important to check and be on a lookout for phony urls such as BBCghana.com, Myjoyonlinenews.com, GNAnews.com, etc. Where screenshots are used, be sure to visit the actual website to be crosscheck.