Kit Goolsby Media
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Kit Goolsby Media

Spotting and Debunking Fake-News: Tools and Tricks

By: Kit Goolsby

After reviewing and watching the Poynter Webinar “Fact-Check It: Digital Tools to Verify Everything Online” I have learned some excellent ways to debunk and #factcheck news stories on mass mediums, including social media. Poynter Webinar hosts Ren Laforme and Daniel Funke gives us a list of tools that help us fact-check news to help distinguish fake news from real. The best thing about these tools that they are mainly free for the population, there are some where you can pay for more information but that is a decision up to the researcher. The easiest way to check to see if a posting is true or false is going with a gut-check. A gut-check allows you to take a step back to understand what is being shared and questioning why. The other tools fall into different categories, images, videos, social media, and geolocation. In imaging we can follow these #factchecktools to get more information:

· URLS and images- you can tell a lot by the domain name or logo from the URL and images included in the news story.

· https://www.whois.com/ is a website created to put in the information and URL of a web story to check and see if it is in fact, a real website. Poynter does their own example by putting their URL into whois.com and receives feedback that Poynter.org is 100% legitimate. The website offers privacy considerations, date of operations, who is the creator and what the content consists of.

· The Wayback machine, https://archive.org/web/ is another website that is able to check to see if the website still exists and acts as an archive for a website’s past content. You can also check credibility, statistics, and an authenticity rating.

· Goolgle reverse image search https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/1325808?hl=en&co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop (the instructions page) is a way to look up a photo on google and search to see where it originally came from and who is using It to perpetuate fake news.

· RevEye https://www.reveye.in/ is similar to Google however this pulls together most search engines to reverse image search to get more information. If you cannot find something on Google this is a great source to find it.

· Metadata searching http://exif.regex.info/exif.cgi is a good way to look at all the information on a photo or video. However, the Poynter discussion states this is not always a great source but can be helpful.

· Tineye https://tineye.com/ is specifically for images searched on the web from browsers and tends to bring more information than google or other options.

Now that we know what can be helpful when searching for more information on #realorfakeimages, let’s look at some tools for videos as this is harder to sleuth out than still images:

· Invid, https://www.invid-project.eu/tools-and-services/invid-verification-plugin/ is a browser extension used to pull frames from a video in order to do a reverse image search. This source works well with one of the other imaging tools we’ve already stated.

· YouTube dataviewer https://citizenevidence.amnestyusa.org/ is another one for those key frames we’ve previously mentioned. It works only with YouTube and works to data check a YouTube video.

· VLC https://www.videolan.org/ is used to slow down the frames of the video to dissect the video more thoroughly.

Now let’s get some tools to look at social media profiles and their authenticity,

· When it allows, check the age of the profile (when it was created). Twitter is mentioned as a place where this tool could come in handy. https://twitter.com/ You can also look at the profile’s biography and if they have the verified blue check mark. Twitter also offers an advanced search to look for certain tweets and look for credible news/accounts.

· Account Analysis https://accountanalysis.app/ is another way to authenticate a Twitter account. It shows how often/when an account tweets and the languages they use and where they come from, websites credited, and who the account follows and retweets the most.

· Twitter Audit https://www.twitteraudit.com/ is a great way to see how many followers are bots and if an account has fake or unverified followers.

· Treeverse https://www.treeverse.net/ is another browser extension that helps visualize how tweets are moved throughout twitter.

· Stalk scan https://www.spoofbox.com/en/tool/stalk-scan is a tool used for debunking and stalking Facebook profiles to find things out that may not be available to the public. It also aids in protecting your account as well. #stalker

Those were great examples of how to keep your social media newsfeed clear of any fake news. Now we move onto geolocation tools to help us locate where fake news may lay.

· Google Earth https://earth.google.com/web/ is a way to actually look at a place that is in the news and if the picture of the news matches the location on Google Earth.

· Wikimapia https://wikimapia.org/ another version of satellite imagery where you’re able to gather information about a building or a road.

· Suncalc http://suncalc.net/ shows how shadows align with the position of the sun. This is important when videos or images show where the video was claiming to be taken.

· Mapchecking https://www.mapchecking.com/ is a crowd size investigating tool and it uses google maps to determine how many people could logically fit in the location.

These tools in can be combined or used separately to expertly sleuth out fake news and debunk fake profiles on social media. I definitely use the Twitter tools to cultivate a newsfeed I know I can trust. I hope that these tools can come in handy for you and how you determine what is real and what is #fakenews. Thank you again to Ren and Daniel from Poynter for these awesome tools. Happy hunting everyone! #2290facts

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