The proliferation of social media has meant it’s hard to imagine that a decade ago it didn’t really exist.
While MySpace was set up in 2003, it did not hit its peak of surpassing Google as the most visited cite in the world until 2006. Facebook launched in 2004 and surpassed MySpace in 2008 when it hit 100 million users. There are now 1.1billion. YouTube was set up in 2005 and now is the third most visited site in the would after Google and YouTube and twitter, which set up in 2006 now has 200 million users.
This communication revolution has had a huge effect on journalism newsgathering practices, not least in the utilisation of Citizen Journalism, often directly from the scene, (Thorsen and Allan 2009).
Many recent studies have examined the importance of social media and mobile technology in the production and dissemination of content. (Allan 2013, Howard and Muzamill 2012) This is often seen as a watershed moment, allowing a direct link between digital technology and how it enables content gathering that can support the democratic process.
These studies highlight how the transformation of journalists from gatekeepers to gatewatchers is complete. (Bruns 2009). What mainstream media journalists are now are verifiers of truth. When utilising this content they must also utilise digital media to stand up source material.
One of my own key sources when looking for material of the Syrian conflict is the twitter feed @mosireen. But how do I know they are who they say they are? And how can we verify the material they provide from the Syrian conflict?
This forms the basis for a live session with my students where we explore how we can stand up global citizen source material. I’ll get them to film it.