Verifying Information in Challenging Environments for Citizen Monitors

Step One: Location Settings on User Profiles

Some social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter have the option to include a user’s location in their profile. This function is often updated manually, meaning the location is not automatically set by a GPS but rather it is set by the user. As such, the location listed on a profile does not necessarily reflect the actual location of where the source is sending you information from. A user can also decide to turn off their location setting completely.

In the first step for authenticating a sources location, you need to ask, is the location listed on the profile (if available) similar to that of the information you are trying to verify?

  • If the answer is no, or it cannot be determined, this person is not your best source of information. For example, if the source is listed as being located in Istanbul, but is reporting on events occurring in Tehran, they are too far from the center of information to be a direct source.
  • If the answer is yes, than you will need to authenticate the source further by looking at the location listed on the actual message sent through social media.