Back in February 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine — people across the globe were introduced to the term “OSINT.” This acronym stands for open-source intelligence. It means people using photographs that they post to their social media channels, that are images called “free-to-access-satellite-images.
The negative impact of so-called “verified” OSINT (open source intelligence) accounts on X (Twitter) has been emphasized by independent news platform 404 Media, especially regarding the confusion they create in the Israel-Palestine information landscape. Some of these Twitter accounts tend to selectively share information to support their biases, often exacerbating the already tense situation between Israel and Palestine. As a result, they contribute to the spread of misinformation and hinder the efforts of objective journalism aimed at unraveling the complex dynamics at play in the conflict.
What is OSINT and its role in journalism?
OSINT accounts use publicly accessible resources, such as social media images and videos, to verify or disprove claims about happenings in global crises. OSINT, or open source intelligence, has become an increasingly important tool for journalists and researchers to gather real-time information and corroborate facts. By analyzing and cross-referencing this publicly available data, these professionals can provide accurate and unbiased reporting on global events, helping the public better understand complex situations.
However, during the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict, these accounts have increasingly disseminated deceptive and poor-quality content motivated by profit and engagement rather than truthfulness. As a result, social media users have been exposed to misleading information, exacerbating tensions and fueling misunderstandings about the complex geopolitical situation. It has become increasingly important for individuals to verify the content’s accuracy to form informed opinions and engage in constructive discussions about the conflict.
Experts consulted by 404 Media have pointed out that verified accounts, which were once dependable sources of information, have led to the “unprecedented” propagation of misinformation. In recent years, many verified accounts have unwittingly become catalysts for the spread of false news and misleading information, causing significant disruptions in social media networks. Consequently, users are left questioning the credibility of these verified sources as trust in reliable information channels continues to deteriorate.
Modifications to Twitter’s verification process and encouragement for spreading false information have exacerbated the problem, transforming the platform into a cluttered and untrustworthy space for precise conflict reporting. As a result, users seeking accurate and reliable news on global conflicts often navigate through a chaotic mix of genuine updates, manipulative propaganda, and outright disinformation.
Users need to be critical and discerning about the content they consume, and for journalists and researchers to continue striving for accurate and unbiased reporting in the face of these challenges.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Haley Black; Pexels; Thank you!