Social Media Club Question of the Week: Who to trust? Verifying social media information

Social Media Club asked their 15th question this week keeping in mind the protests regarding the Iran Election.

#SMCQ15 How do you know who to trust within the social media environment?

Listen to the Question of the Week Podcast to hear to the discussion. Here are my thoughts on the matter:

I have been watching CNN a little too religiously over the past few days, trying to stay up to date on the Iran election protests. CNN is using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube to report what is happening on the ground because journalists have been forced to stop reporting. Many of the photos and videos being shown are said to be unverified, but the content still broadcasted over CNN and will interpreted as news by money. The CNN news reports often refer to tweets tagged #iranelection and read tweets from the last 30 seconds or minute. Obviously CNN is not checking the facts of these tweets coming in every few seconds, and I believe that can be misleading to people uniformed about Twitter and the situation at hand.

Does content gain credibility when it is retweeted? If so, I agree with @ChrisHeuer when he said that we need to critically analyze the information, look back in their tweets, and try to check their sources. I found some videos on YouTube of building explosions in Tehran, and they had low views. Was this original footage? I contacted the user to see if he was in Tehran, and he responded that he was in Italy and resubmitting videos to help share them online. He also has a blog where he said he gets information from “trusted people,” but I am still unclear of his credibility. The information from his blog is written in English, Italian, and large sections of Farsi (translated page here). Even if it is not accurate, some of the Farsi translations are powerful words. Share this site with others, and please let us know if you find out if it is a trustworthy source.

I have joined the conversation by sharing articles and content online, and I changed my avatar to green to show my support for Mussavi and citizens of Iran. At first I was watching because of the use of social media, but didn’t want to take a stance until I investigated the history of Iran and its people. I agree with Mussavi and his politics, and I support my generation and their efforts to make sure their voices are heard and votes counted.