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Social Media News Agencies Playing Role in MH17 Investigation
By: Jessica Cherok
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In the wake of the MH17 crash (the plane shot down by pro-Russian fighters), social media may be helping investigators piece together parts of what may occurred before and after the disaster. Each side has been pointing fingers at the other, making it incredibly difficult for investigators to figure out exactly what happened. As a result, social news agencies are sifting through posts to verify claims.

Social news agencies, such as Storyful and Open Newsroom, serve as real-time resources related to news content posted on social media. These companies “debunk, fact-check, clarify, credit and source” content. Their role has become increasingly important as the use of social media has increased in the last several years, and is often the first place information appears related to disasters.

According to Open Newsroom, it appears the separatist militia did have an anti-aircraft missile system. Open Newsroom verified the swirling rumor through four pieces of content posted on various social media sites. The verification is done though the agency’s network of 900+ journalists.

While there is a level of concern regarding reporting information posted on social media as news, there is no denying that the platform is an important source. The wider networks and larger verification professionals provide some safeguards in ensuring the validity of stories. Despite journalistic hesitations, many news organizations now look to social media at some level to find and report news.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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