When there’s a flurry of breaking news, we all want to be informed, and inform others. How do we sort through the online information overload? And what’s our own responsibility for what we choose to share?
Here are five tips to help.
1. How do I know this? For anything you read, ask yourself, “How does the reporter (activist, tweeter, my best friend, etc.) know this?” Is the ultimate source a first-hand eyewitness? Is he quoting an eyewitness? Which leads to point two.
2. Sourcing: Is the source identified? Can you judge for yourself if he reliable? If the source is anonymous, has the reporter credibly explained why he needs to remain nameless?
3. Images: Be wary of images that aren’t credited. We’ve seen images from Syria and old images from Gaza irresponsibly passed off as “current from Gaza.” So if you share a photo, include some info about where you saw it and why you trust it enough to post. That’s transparency, which leads to my next point.
4. Be transparent. Transparency makes it easier for all of us to digest your contribution to the conversation. And if something you share turns out to be bogus, transparency may protect your credibility from getting burnt.
5. When in doubt, leave it out. Don’t rush to post anything. Take a breath and think it through.
Image: CC BY flickr/mkhmarketing