Let's take a look!


In this case there's a lot of good sources on that search page. I chose Reuters, due to their expertise with international reporting, but most choices here are fine. At the time I did this search I saw Newsweek, USA Today, BBC News, Thrillist (a culture site), and Business Insider.

What is our response here? Well it might be something like this:

The story appears to be true — Google News shows it being reported by multiple outlets including some reputable outlets I recognize. I chose the Reuters article, and looked up Reuters on Wikipedia before reading it. It's a well-known news agency with an international focus. The story itself to me seems a bit fishy (I mean really!?) and maybe I'm just a little suspicious that the camera didn't catch the rat going into the ATM. But the idea the rat ate (or shredded, technically) the money is in fact the consensus of both reporters and the bank authority there, so I'm inclined to go with their take on it.

One thing to note here: a lot of people get hung up on whether something could possibly be false. And it's good that people are suspicious. There are sloppy reporters out there, and government regulators don't always tell the truth.

But doubt is a position too. Your mileage may vary, but for me, even though I can imagine a scenario in my head where someone steals some money from the ATM then shreds the remaining money and tosses a dead rat in there to blame it on, the truth is I am 13,000 miles away from this event, have not reviewed any of the evidence directly, don't know the local environment, the trustworthiness of the people involved, the sequence of events.

Under such circumstances it's fine to say, yeah, for the moment — given there is a whole universe of police and reporters out there looking at this with resources and insights and skills I don't have — it's most likely that the rat really ate the money. If new evidence emerges, you can change your mind.

This is a really subtle point, and we'll talk about it more later.

Trading Up

Often we get trustworthy news from not so trustworthy places. Maximum.com might be a great site, but it's unlikely, in this case, that they individually verified a story in India. They are just re-reporting it. Social media exacerbates the issue, since which article reaches you is more determined by the clickbaity-ness of their headline than the quality of their reporting.

By searching a claim and getting a story from a news source that has a verification process in place you not only verify the claim, but you end up with a better story to share with others. We call this "trading up." The idea behind trading up is that you can use social media to discover stories relevant to you, but when you find the stories, take a moment to "zoom out" and get the best reporting or analysis on it, rather than simply reading the specific article that happens to find its way to you.

When you use social media in this way, you let social media do what it does best (personalized topic discovery) while relying on either news or other search to address social media's big problem (credibility, clickbait, manipulation). If you find a better story on the subject, share that story instead, and in doing so make social media a bit better for everyone.

Next up: How to use reverse image search to Find Trusted Coverage