How do reporters verify social media about Ukraine?

Correspondent Jacob Soboroff shares how NBC News’ Social Newsgathering team fact-checks user-generated content about Ukraine.

Social media feeds often claim to have real-time updates about Ukraine that have not yet appeared on NBC News. Before NBC News reports on user-generated content, its Social Newsgathering team verifies the information to prevent the spread of online rumors.

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One tweet that went viral on March 5 reportedly showed “Incredible footage purportedly from Kherson [a city in southern Ukraine] showing local civilians very literally putting their bodies in the path of occupying Russian forces.”

Bianca Britton, a Social Newsgathering reporter based in London, saw the video and knew almost instantly the post contained a bit of misinformation — albeit, she believes, unintentionally.

Colleague Sarah Kaufman, from the Social Newsgathering team in Los Angeles, had previously verified similar videos from Melitopol, another southern Ukrainian city. These videos also show Ukrainian civilians on the streets pushing Russian military vehicles, shouting profanities at Russian soldiers and telling them to go home.

Kaufman, who speaks Russian and reads some Ukrainian, was able to match store signs seen in the Melitopol video with information on Google Maps. Britton then confirmed that the video purportedly from Kherson showed the same vehicles, license plates, road layout and store signs as those in the verified video from Melitopol. The two videos showed slightly different angles of the same Ukrainian civilians pushing Russian military vehicles and yelling at Russian troops in Melitopol on or around March 1.

The NBC News Social Newsgathering team works around the clock to sort through misinformation and verify the incredible amount of user-generated videos and photos on the ground in Ukraine.