Verifying Information in Challenging Environments for Citizen Monitors

The process of cross-checking information is the act of putting together all the information you have found and cross-checking it with the information provided to you through the source. To cross-check information you will:

  • First, collect all possible sources of information available through social media, websites, blogs, local and international newspapers, television, radio, etc. During this step you should remain a bit skeptical about the reports you receive. Look for multiple reports from different unconnected sources. The more independent the source, the better.
  • Second, if you find that all or part of your information is being reported differently (like the date and location) do not discard the information immediately as false. Try to identify which version of the report is the most accurate. If you cannot confirm the accuracy in any of the versions, do not chose the most likely one, but report all versions and highlight the differences among the reports.

Cross-referencing is a useful tool when verifying information that is easily subject to change as it gets re-reported. You can use this technique to compare and contrast your information with other reports, but keep in mind that the less you find about something the less reliable you can consider that information. When cross-referencing information, try and find as many sources as possible to either confirm or deny your information.

Test Your Knowledge

You received a report claiming that a civil rights violation occurred on 03/02/13 in the city of Shiraz and about 10-15 men and women were purportedly arrested without cause. What steps would you take to verify this information?