WhatsApp at 1 billion: How can journalists use the chat app for newsgathering? - First Draft News
Pinboard (thomwithoutanh) 2016-07-29
At social newswire Storyful, global news editor David Clinch and news editor Joe Galvin have been researching and refining their use of WhatsApp for newsgathering over the last two years. While stories like Warren’s are the “bright lights” of when using the app goes well, said Clinch, they are “an illusion in the sense of it being a consistently useful newsgathering platform.” “Because WhatsApp isn’t really a platform,” he told First Draft News. “It just isn’t. It’s a private messaging app. There’s no platform that you can search, there’s no API, there’s no geolocation you can search via some method, you just have to be connected to people. So we’ve cheated by identifying the people, in particular places where WhatsApp is very useful as a newsgathering tool, who act as the nodes.”
Verification of this kind of footage within WhatsApp, however, is almost impossible. As with many social networks, WhatsApp strips images of any useful metadata and, when images start circulating within and between group messages on WhatsApp, there is no way to trace it back to the original source.
“We’ve had almost no luck or success in ever having anyone on WhatsApp identify a truly original source for content that actually was on WhatsApp,” said Clinch. “What we do have, is people say ‘I saw it on Facebook and then I shared it’ and that at least gives us a lead back to a platform.”
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