How To Fact-Check During a Breaking News Situation?

The information vacuum during breaking news situations leaves space for misinformation.

3 min read

Script & Editorial Inputs: Kritika Goel & Abhilash Mallick

Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia

Camera: Shiv Maurya


During a breaking news situation a lot of information gets shared – a lot of which is mis/disinformation. But do you know why this happens? What exactly leads to a surge in misinformation during a breaking news situation?

Situations like natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other unexpected occurrences often leave people seeking more information than is available on trusted news websites. This information vacuum is often filled with misinformation.


How To Fact-Check During Breaking News Situations?

The easiest way to verify anything is to run a Google search to see if you can find credible or verified leads on it. If the information is not available on any reliable website, one should show restraint and not share the piece of information.

If you don't get the information from Google, you can also conduct your own investigation on forwarded images and videos by using the methods mentioned in the previous episodes of 'Verify Kiya Kya?'. (Episodes can be viewed here and here.)

On several occasions, old and unrelated images get shared in times of crisis even by social media users who have a verified handle.

For example, a video showing a journalist reporting and several bodies wrapped in disposable bags lined behind him went viral amid Ukraine's war with Russia. One of the bodies in the video could be seen moving and that was used to claim that "Ukrainians were faking their deaths".

The information vacuum during breaking news situations leaves space for misinformation.

An archive of the tweet can be seen here.

(Source: Twitter/Screenshot)

We conducted a reverse image search by taking screenshots from the video and found that the clip was from a demonstration against climate policy in Austria's capital Vienna. The video was published in an Austria-based media outlet OE24 on 4 February. You can read our fact-check here.


But What If the Video/Photo Is Not Old?

If the above-mentioned steps don't lead to older versions of the photographs or videos, the next move could be to check the following:

  • Look at who is sharing it

  • Who shared it first

  • Was any source mentioned?

A social media post by an unknown person without citing any source is a definite red flag.

Creating a Verification Process and Checklist

In situations where a crisis can extend over a long period of time, such as the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia, one needs to set up a verification process. For verified information, one should look for and take note of:

  • Journalists or news organisations on the ground

  • Official government social media handles

  • Civil society organisations


Be Aware of Imposter Accounts

During times of crisis, some imposter accounts show up online that pretend to be genuine sources of information to mislead people. To weed out such accounts, look at the following things:

  • Check when they joined the social media platform.

  • Are they giving the source of information they are sharing?

  • Does the account link back to an official website/organisation?

  • Find the user on other social media platforms.

  • Are they using stock images as their profile picture?


(This is the fourth video of a series titled 'Verify Kiya Kya?' exploring the nuances of fact-checking and media literacy. In the next video we will touch upon how to use your mobile phone for verification. Stay tuned!)

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9643651818, or e-mail it to us at and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Breaking News   Fake News   Webqoof 

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