FREE ONLINE COURSE:

Navigating Misinformation:

How to identify and verify what you see on the web



Instructor: Claire Wardle, First Draft

March 25 - April 21, 2019

With support from:


Content from the social web is now used daily in traditional reporting, whether that’s a photo from a breaking news event, a viral video from YouTube, or a tweet from a politician. Research however, shows that few newsrooms are trained on how to verify social media content and even fewer have policies about the ethics of including this type of material in their reporting. Finding content on social media might seem easy, but if you can’t ascertain the provenance or verify the source, date or location of a piece of content, integrating it into reporting can be incredibly risky. We won’t just explain what the tools are, we’ll show you how to use them.





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 “Navigating Misinformation: How to identify and verify what you see on the web” 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 ryansagare@utexas.edu to your address book to ensure you receive emails about the course.

In this course, you will learn how to identify and verify online content, and learn about responsible reporting in an age of disinformation. These skills will be relevant whether you’re working in a newsroom or are simply a conscientious digital citizen.

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

  • Protect yourself when doing research in the darkest corners of the web.
  • Monitor social feeds, either to identify content that you can use in your reporting, or to identify rumours, misleading or false content being shared widely on the social web, that needs to be debunked.
  • Investigate the provenance of a piece of content. Where did it originate?
  • Perform advanced verification techniques like confirming platform timestamps and geo-locating where images or videos were captured.
  • Begin to establish for yourself, newsroom and/or community, guidelines for the ethical use of content sourced from the web.
  • Introduction Module: Course Introduction

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

    Module 1 - Discovery of problematic content

    This module will cover:

  • How to use the free monitoring platforms CrowdTangle and Tweetdeck
  • Learn the tipping point of when to report on, or amplify, a piece of content
  • How mis- and disinformation flows through the web
  • Donie O’Sullivan, a reporter at CNN who covers disinformation, cybersecurity and election integrity, will talk about how he discovers problematic content for his reporting
  • Module 2 - Basic verification of online sources

    This module will cover:

  • The verification process
  • Scrapes, metadata and reverse image search
  • Free browser plugins to help in verification
  • Digital footprints: finding people online
  • How these skills connect to your work
  • Module 3 - Advanced verification of online sources

    This module will cover:

  • How date and time stamps work on social posts
  • How to geo-locate where a photo or video was taken
  • Tools overview to help determine time in a photo or video
  • Verification challenge
  • Module 4 - Ethical considerations and challenges

    This module will cover:

  • Journalists are under attack on the dark web; you’ll learn how to defend yourself
  • The challenges of disinformation: when to report and how to report on it responsibly
  • How closed messaging apps and the dark web work and the ethical considerations when using the information in your reporting
  • The real threat of being doxed and what to do if you are
  • April Glaser, a technology writer and co-hosts the podcast “If Then” at Slate, talks about how she works in the dark web and protects herself from doxing and threats
  • Claire Wardle leads the strategic direction and research for First Draft and is the co-founder of one of First Draft’s founding partners, Eyewitness Media Hub. She is also currently a TED fellow. Before First Draft, she was the Research Director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She was also head of social media for the United Nations Refugee Agency and Director of News Services for Storyful. She is one of the world’s experts on user-generated content, and has led substantial research projects—with an emphasis on qualitative research methodologies—investigating how UGC is handled by news organizations. She was a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Information and Entertainment. She holds a PhD in Communications from the University of Pennsylvania.

    Aimee Rinehart directs partnerships and development for First Draft, where she has worked since 2016. She managed Comprova, the Brazilian election project in 2018, which was the first journalism organization to have API access to WhatsApp. She started working online in 1996 and was a digital originator at The New York Times. She was an editor at the Wall Street Journal Europe in Brussels and upon her return to New York, worked in the communications departments at the American Civil Liberties Union, the Overseas Press Club of America and Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. She graduated from Indiana University School of Journalism and has an MFA in creative writing from Rutgers-Newark University.

    This course is open to anyone interested in learning about verification of online source material. Journalists, editors, concerned digital citizens, students and faculty should enroll. Those already involved in verification, discovery of problematic content and research are encouraged to join the course to add to the discussion and provide additional insight on the topic.

    This course requires you to have access to an Internet connection and Web browser. We encourage you to have accounts for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

    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 Claire Wardle 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 Completion 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:

  • Recorded video lectures
  • Recorded video interviews
  • Readings and handouts/interactive exercises
  • Participation in the discussion forums
  • Quizzes covering concepts from video lectures and/or readings
  • 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.

    No formal course credit of any kind is associated with the certificate. The certificate is awarded by the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas to attest to the participation in the online course.

    In order for you to be eligible for the Certificate of Completion, you must:

    • Listen to the weekly video classes and read the weekly readings.
    • Complete weekly quizzes with a 70% minimum score. (You can retake the quizzes as many times needed. Only the highest score will be recorded.)
    • Create OR reply to at least one discussion forum each week

    At the end of the course, an online form will be made available for you to apply for a certificate. Once you have filled out the form and we have verified that you have met the course requirements, the Knight Center will send a message with instructions on how to make your payment. The verification process will take three to five business days.

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




    Connect With Us:

    Facebook Twitter