03 Oct 2018

Facebook and First Draft News train students to debunk misinformation

It is of paramount importance that journalists approach everything with skepticism. Today, we are flooded with information, most of which is misinformation. Social media has aggravated the problem. Morphed images and doctored videos are disseminated through social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The consumption of such information without verification is a cause for grave concern.

Facebook and First Draft News spoke to Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) students on October 1, 2018  about  verification of news and its importance.

Eoghan Sweeny, Global Training Director, First Draft News who led the training led the training emphasised the need for verification in any form of journalism—print, broadcast or multimedia. He began the session by saying, “In journalism everything has to be verified. If your mother says she loves you, go ahead and verify.”

He said that our desire to believe makes us share things, especially online. He showed video clips which have been widely circulated online, misleadingly. A great example was a public safety video on child abduction made by the Pakistani government that has been wrongly circulated as one of actual kidnapping. This led to the death of several people in India who were lynched on suspicion of being kidnappers.

Sweeny then went on to demonstrate how most images and videos can be checked for origin and genuineness. He showed students tools that were easily accessible and could be used to debunk misinformation.

Later, he held a workshop for the faculty.

The Facebook Journalism Project that brought this training to IIJNM is collaborating with news organizations to establish stronger ties between Facebook and the news industry. They intend to develop products, and work with publishers and educators on how to equip people with the knowledge they need to be informed readers in the digital age.

First Draft is a project of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, which uses research-based methods to fight misinformation and disinformation online.

By Sounak Das

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