Trust and verification

in an age of misinformation

Instructor: Craig Silverman

April 9 to May 6, 2018






Welcome to the massive open online course (MOOC) “Trust and verification in an age of misinformation,” from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin. This is a free course open to anyone located anywhere around the world who wants to learn about the dynamics of trust and transparency in digital journalism and how to verify digital content and debunk online misinformation.


Registering in the platform is easy. Please follow these steps:

  • 1. Create an account in the Journalism Courses system. Even if you’ve taken a course with us before, you may need to create a new account. Check to see if your previous username and password work before creating a new account.
  • 2. Wait for a confirmation in your email indicating that your account has been created. If you do not receive this, please check your spam folder.
  • 3. Log into the platform, scroll down until you see the course listings, and click on the “Trust and verification in an age of misinformation” course.
  • 4. A button will appear. Click “Enroll” to enroll yourself in the course. You will be able to access the course from the “My Courses” menu at the top of the page.
  • 5. You will receive an email confirming your enrollment.

Please add the email addresses knightcenter@austin.utexas.edu and filipa.rodrigues@utexas.edu to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.

In this course, you will learn about how journalists traditionally build trust with an audience, how today’s media environment changes the mechanics of trust and attention, and how to verify online content and forge trust with digital audiences.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the forces and factors affecting how information flows in the digital environment
  • Analyze social media sharing and web traffic patterns of content
  • Perform verification of online photos and videos, as well as websites and social media accounts
  • Utilize transparency and other approaches to build trust with the public

This course is open to anyone interested in learning about the dynamics of trust and transparency in digital journalism, and how to verify digital content and debunk online misinformation. Journalists, editors, technology professionals, students and faculty should enroll. Those already working as digital journalists are encouraged to join the course to add to the discussion and provide additional insight on the topic.

This course only requires you to have access to an Internet connection and web browser.

First of all, note that this is an asynchronous course. That means there are no live events scheduled at specific times. You can log in to the course and complete activities throughout the week at your own pace, at the times and on the days that are most convenient for you.

Despite its asynchronous nature, there are still structures in place for the duration of the course. The material is organized into four weekly modules. Each module will be taught by one instructor, Craig Silverman, and will cover a different topic through videos, presentations, readings and discussion forums. There will be a quiz each week to test the knowledge you've gained through the course materials. The weekly quizzes, and weekly participation in the discussion forums, are the basic requirements for earning a certificate of participation at the end of the course.

This course is very flexible, and if you are behind with the materials, you have the entire length of the course to complete them. We do recommend you complete each of the following before the end of each week so you don’t fall behind:

  • Video lectures
  • Readings and handouts/exercises
  • Participation in the discussion forums
  • Quizzes covering concepts from video lectures and/or readings

Introduction Module: Course Introduction

In the introductory module, you will get an overview of the course structure and meet the instructor and special guests.

Module 1: Fundamentals of trust and verification

A look at how journalists have traditionally built trust, and how they’ve traditionally performed the process of verification.

Special guest: Jay Rosen, New York University

Module 2: Understanding today's media environment

Today’s media is democratized, mediated by algorithms, and easier to manipulate than ever before. We will examine how these factors challenge and change the way journalists build trust and perform verification.

Special guest: Claire Wardle, First Draft News

Module 3: Verifying/debunking misinformation

Learn how to verify images, video, social media accounts, and websites. This module also offers instruction in how to track and analyze social sharing and traffic patterns of content, and how to push back against misinformation.

Special guest: Malachy Browne, New York Times

Module 4: Building trust through transparency and accountability.

Journalists must actively work to build trust and connection with the public, and we must also be transparent about how we do our work. Learn best practices for doing both.

Special guest: Joy Mayer, Trusting News Project

Craig Silverman is an award-winning author and journalist and one of the world's leading experts on online misinformation, fake news, and content verification. He is the media editor of BuzzFeed News where he leads a global beat covering platforms, online misinformation, and fake news.

Craig previously was the founding editor of BuzzFeed Canada, and was also the founder of Emergent.info, a rumor tracking project that was developed as part a fellowship with the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. From 2004 to 2015 he wrote Regret The Error, a blog about media accuracy and corrections, which became part of the Poynter Institute for Media Studies and was the basis for an award-winning book of press criticism. In 2010, Craig was part of the team that launched OpenFile, an online news startup that delivered community-driven reporting in six Canadian cities. He is the former managing editor of PBS MediaShift and has been a columnist for The Globe And Mail, Toronto Star, and Columbia Journalism Review. Craig also edited The Verification Handbook and The Verification Handbook for Investigative Reporting for the European Journalism Centre.

His journalism and books have been honored by the Mirror Awards, U.S. National Press Club, National Magazine Awards, Canadian Online Publishing Awards, and Crime Writers of Canada.

A certificate of completion is available for those who meet all of the course requirements, and pay online an administrative fee of $30 (thirty U.S. dollars), using a credit card. After the course ends, the Knight Center will send a message with an online form you can submit, if you are interested in the certificate. The online form will be available during the last week of the course. After the form closes, the Knight Center team will verify if you fulfilled the course requirements. This process takes at least a week after the form closes. After confirmation of course requirements, the Knight Center will send a message through the course platform with confirmation that you fulfilled the course requirements and you qualify for the certificate. In this message we will also send you instructions for how to make payment.

Those who meet all of the course requirements will be able to download a PDF version of a certificate of completion. The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas awards the certificate to attest to students' participation in the online course, and no formal course credit of any kind is associated with it.

If you'd like to receive a certificate of completion for the course, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete weekly quizzes with a minimum score of 70% by the weekly deadline.
  • Watch weekly video lectures and review weekly readings.
  • Participate in at least one discussion forum each week by the given deadline.

If all requirements are met, an electronic certificate will be emailed to the student.

Please add the email addresses filipa.rodrigues@utexas.edu and knightcenter@austin.utexas.edu to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.





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