It’s no secret that the Internet is often a hotbed of misinformation in the wake of a breaking news event, particularly during horrible disasters involving multiple deaths, such as the Sandy Hook shootings. And social media is often a conduit for the rapid spread of fake facts and those terribly convincing photos that circulate around seemingly without end.
But a new service called Grasswire plans to be a “real-time newsroom curated and fact checked by everyone.” Covered by PandoDaily’s David Holmes recently, the Android app and website seeks to rectify all the wrongs people (including journalists) have Twitter have committed in spreading non fact-checked information on social media by ensuring it doesn’t keep happening. The platform is reminiscent of Reddit, Holmes notes — only Grasswire’s verification process is a bit more in-depth.
“…Instead of simply upvoting or downvoting, users can click “confirm” or “refute.” The confirmations and refutations stick with each post so that when the link is shared to social media, whatever factchecking is in place goes along with it. That way, even if a Grasswire link to a false claim is tweeted out or posted to Facebook, once its been refuted all subsequent retweets and posts will surface that factcheck,” Holmes explained.
Honestly, I think Grasswire’s idea is a huge step in the right direction. As more social media outlets surface, and user bases rise, citizen journalism is becoming more mainstream. On the one hand, it’s great. An engaged citizenry that reads and shares the news and seeks to inform their followers of what’s going on in their towns, states, country, the world?
On the other hand, it leaves a lot to be desired for journalists and news organizations using social media as a basis for a legitimate news story. If Grasswire’s concept works like it should, users have the opportunity to affirm news reports and facts using actual sources, whereas with Reddit, they’re not required to “back up” why they’re upvoting or downvoting a post. Grasswire seems to have been created more for the frequent benefit of journalists, whereas Reddit has slowly evolved into a potentially useful source for press members — though that was never its intended purpose.
As Holmes noted, more funding will be needed if Grasswire wants to be a sustainable news operation. But for now, it’s another social news discovery and verification site for journalists to tinker with and learn from — which is always a good thing.
You can learn more about Grasswire here.