I’ve been working for the past couple of weeks as a data researcher for the Guardian and LSE’s Reading the Riots project. I am really glad to have been involved in such an important study, inspired by the social research done after the violent Detroit riot in 1967.
I live in East London, and was following the riots in London and around the country on the Guardian’s excellent liveblogs and on Twitter. When disturbances happened just down the road from where I live, I decided to Storify it rather than go out - which I thought was too risky. I published Tweets and images from sources that appeared authentic and information that was verified by images from other people. For instance, some of these sources were taking pictures from the flats on the high street above where the action was taking place - so they were eyewitnesses. This exercise brought home the whole question of verification of social media: is it better to stay ahead of the news curve and publish what you think is true, or whether you should wait for independent verification? Poynter published an interesting article on how to figure out whether to press publish, and so have many other blogs.