Verification Handbook: For Disinformation And Media Manipulation

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Quick Facts

Publishing Organisation:
European Journalism Center
English, German, Italian, Turkish, Arabic
Covers Thematic
  • Verification Verification is an extra or final bit of proof that establishes something is true.</br>To verify something is to make sure it's correct or true, so verification is an action that establishes the truth of something.</br></br>Source:
  • Target audience
  • Civil Society Civil society is a target group in LINKS which comprises citizens, civil society organizations, educational institutions, vulnerable groups, social movement organizations
  • Media The term media refers to any means of distribution, dissemination or interpersonal, mass or group communication of works, documents, or written, visual, audio or audiovisual messages (such as radio, television, cinema, Internet, press, telecommunications, etc.)</br></br>Entities using multiple communication channels are often called Media
  • Audience experience level
  • Advanced Those who currently use social media to communicate with the public during all phases of an emergency and have developed a clear social media strategy, even if this is not thoroughly documented or communicated across the organisation</br></br>Source:
  • Disaster Management Phase


    This handbook builds on the foundations of the first edition of the Verification Handbook and the Verification Handbook for Investigative Reporting. Each offers fundamental skills for monitoring social media, verifying images, video and social media accounts, and using search engines to identify people, companies and other entities. Many of the chapters and case studies in this handbook are written with the assumption that readers possess the basic knowledge laid out in these previous publications, particularly the first handbook. If you are struggling to follow along, you should start with the first handbook.


    • Think like an adversary.
      • Each new feature of a platform or digital service can be exploited in some way.
      • It’s critical to put yourself in the shoes of someone looking to manipulate the environment for ideological, political, financial or other reasons.
      • When you look at digital content and messages, you should consider the motivations driving its creation and propagation.
      • It’s also essential to stay abreast of the latest techniques being used by bad actors, digital marketers and others whose livelihood relies on finding new ways to gain attention and earn revenue the digital environment.
    • Focus on actors, content, behavior and networks.
      • The goal is to analyze the actors, content and behavior and how they are to document how they might be working in unison as a network.
      • By comparing and contrasting these four things with each other, you can begin to understand what you’re seeing.
      • A fundamental approach is to start with one piece of content or an entity such as a website and pivot on it to identify a larger network through behavior and other connections.
        • This can involve examining the flow of content and actors across platforms, and occasionally into different languages.
    • Monitor and collect
      • The best way to identify media manipulation and disinformation is to look for it all the time.
      • Ongoing monitoring and tracking of known actors, topics and communities of interest is essential.
      • Keep and organize what you find, whether in spreadsheets, screenshot folders or by using paid tools like Hunchly.
    • Be careful with attribution
      • It’s sometimes impossible to say exactly who’s behind a particular account, piece of content, or a larger information operation.
      • One reason is that actors with different motives can behave in similar ways, and produce or amplify the same kind of content.
      • Even the platforms themselves — which have far better access to data and more resources — make attribution mistakes.
      • The most successful and compelling evidence usually combines digital proof with information from inside sources — an ideal mix of online and traditional investigative work.
      • That’s becoming even more difficult as state actors and others evolve and find new ways to hide their fingerprints.
      • Attribution is difficult; getting it wrong will undermine all of the careful work that led up to it.

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