How to verify the credibility of the information on social media

In modern society, social media plays an increasingly important role in  disseminating information. It not only  the media of mass information dissemination , but alsocarrier of  public opinion.(Garcia & Braun, 2012With the development of social media, more and more people share their daily lives, stories and personal experiences with others on social media, like WeChat Moment, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. However, because social media allows everyone to share any ideas and information on internet, not all the information on social media is credible. It is necessary for us to verify the credibility of the information from social media.

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For example, I usually get information from WeChat Moment and WeChat official account. Official account is a new function module of WeChat, which can be divided into two types: service account and subscription account

Service accounts are for some advanced features, like customer service and e-commerce. And subscription accounts are mainly for pushing content.

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So organizations and individuals can register official accounts for sending any information, including text, video, image and so on.

However, is all this information credible? Of course not.

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In August of this year, I read a long text-image message  from a WeChat official account about Sydney life. The topic of this message is that the owner of a Chinese gift shop at Kingsford open clients’ packages without permission.According to the WeChat official account, a people sent a WeChat message to tell them that a gift shop on the Anzac Parade of Kingsford called One Shop is an unscrupulous shop.

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He said the shop owner would open clients’ packages without their permission and stole their valuables.

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He asked this official account to report and forward this message to remind more people to avoid being scammed. In addition, this person also provided some photos to show that the shop owner and assistants were opening clients’ packages that are already wrapped.

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According to the news, the police have come to this shop and investigated this incident.

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This information got a lot of attention from Chinese international students and was forwarded on Moment many times by different WeChat users.After the official account reported this information, a lot of Chinese students left comments to say that they would stop buying anything from One Shop. And some people even call it “Black Shop”which means that it is unscrupulous.Obviously, this information seriously damaged the image and reputation of One Shop.

In my opinion, this information is not true. Firstly, to verify the credibility of a message from social media, we need to determine whether the information source is reliable.(Meier,2011)If the source can be authenticated as trustworthy, its content and message may be true and credible.If the reliability of source is difficult to ascertain, we need to check whether this message is reported by other media.In the other words, are other sources also reporting on this?

Everyone can create WeChat official accounts to push message and information, so I cannot make sure that whether this official account about Sydney life is trustworthy. Then, I search this message on other social media and websites, like Sina Weibo, Facebook, and Google.I didn’t find this message from other media.So I think the message may be not credible.

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Secondly, we need to check that are there any witnesses’ words in the message to verify the message content is credible.(Meier,2011)

In this message, except the person who provide the information, other people involved in the incident including shop owner, shop assistants and police were not being interviewed. We just only heard that person’s side of the story and no one attest his words.So, I don’t think this message is true.

Thirdly, we can judge whether the information is reasonable according to common sense.

After this message was reported, I found One Shop still open for normal business. Besides, there are still many Chinese students buy products from this shop and ask the shop assistants to help them to mail their packages.  According to reason, this shop must be closed and accept police investigation. I think it is unreasonable so I think this information is not credible.

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Actually, this information is false.The owner of One Shop have clarified this information Sydney Today.The shop owner said it is just an normal event about arguing with a customer.And he asked police come to help them mediate the problem.

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After mediation, the police asked the customer to get back her products from packages so the shop owner and assistants helped her to open those packages.

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The owner said he can provide the police record number of this case to prove their innocence.

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After the shop owner clarified this information, the previous rumour was deleted by that official account.

The information on social media is extremely diverse.We should learn to verify the credibility of information from social media.

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