How Journalists Verify User-Generated Content During Terrorist Crises. Analyzing Twitter Communication During the Brussels Attacks

Social media, and Twitter in particular, have become important sources for journalists in times of crises. User-generated content (UGC) can provide journalists with on-site information and material they otherwise would not have access to. But how they source and verify UGC has not yet been systematically analyzed. This study analyzes sourcing and verification practices on Twitter during the Brussels attacks in March 2016. Based on quantitative content analysis, we identified (1) the journalists and news organizations sourcing during the attacks, (2) classified different forms of sourcing and verification requests, and (3) analyzed the sourced UGC. Results show that sourcing on Twitter has become a global phenomenon. During the first hours of the attack, journalists rely on UGC. Their sourcing and verification practices vary widely and often lack basic verification procedures, which leads to a discussion about the ethical implications of sourcing practices.

Tags: Quantitative, Twitter, User-generated Content