A dear friend recently sent me a video as part of a larger discussion (hopefull more on that later) as I was composing my reply, I thought it might be useful to put in a more shareable format.
In this post I'm going to share a few of the things I look for when evaluating how trustworthy a piece of content seems to be. I'm not going to break down the contents of the video, merely share my thought process.
It should go without saying that this process is not foolproof. Nor does it mean that you should completely accept everything, should the source seem trustworthy because it has the right logos or background. Conversely, just because something doesn't seem trustworthy, that doesn't automatically invalidate it entirely.
Given today's internet — very few things should come as a surprise. If you have an opinion, there's definitely someone who shares it — and has incontrovertible evidence that it is undoubtely the correct way to think.
My point is — the same way that you [hopefully] wouldn't just accept the first quote you get for renovating your bathroom — similar due-diligence should be exercised when evaluting things on the internet. The more data points you can gather, the more informed your decision will be.
But enough of this — let's get to the analysis:
When I clicked the video — the first thing I see is an ad. This immediately tells me that there is a direct link between me watching this video, and money being deposited into someone's bank account.
I'm not saying this is a good or bad — it's a data point, which brings me to the next thing I notice — the person who has uploaded the video:
Infinite Seeker — his avatar is a cat, with the words "INFINITE SEEKER" set in Algerian (A typeface arguably more suited for conveying expertise in mixology) — again, not bad (typography aside) but not necessarily confidence inducing.
His featured video, as well as other recent videos he's uploaded, seems to indicate that the "COVID-19 facts" video is a bit of an outlier in terms of channel content. What is also interesting, is the disparity in views. His featured video has 299 views (as of 17 July, 2020) — his 4 latest have significantly less than that.
Again — not necessarily good, or bad. Just interesting.
Clicking further into the channel seems to confirm that the Covid video is definitely an outlier in many respects. While there isn't a consistent theme to this channel, there seems to be clear threads — some kind of english classes, as well as youth track and field. None of the other videos has remotely close to the number of views.
At this point, it feels safe to say that INFINITE SEEKER is not a well-established source of truth.
This does not invalidate his videos, however it definitely makes me question how a seemingly random YouTuber, with seemingly no history of broadly relevant videos was able to get 47k views, from a video that he gives not indication of having produced.
At this point, I'd like to learn a little more about the expert featured in the video.
Typically Twitter (or other social media platforms) is one of the best places to start — if the person has an active presence you can learn a lot about them.
As we can see, Dr. Victory is very clear about her political leanings, which I appreciate — you don't have to scroll far to figure it out.
This is not to elevate one side over another — rather to show that there's potentially a political agenda behind what is being shared as "facts".
At this point, I'm wondering why a successful medical professional like Dr. Victory doesn't have her own YouTube channel — then I realize perhaps she does, so I go back to YouTube and see if I can find it:
This is interesting — my first time seeing this 'fact check' feature in YouTube.
You can read the full analysis for yourself.
Hopefully this brief analysis has been helpful — it doesn't take long to do. Thankfully Dr. Victory and YouTube made it much easier — it's not always that straightforward.
I highly recommend taking at least a few of these steps whenever you don't recognize the author or source of content on the internet (it also doesn't hurt to do this due diligence for those authors or sources you trust to keep them honest).
Misinformation is everywhere on the internet — it's worth your time to fact-check pretty much anything and everything you see or hear these days.
Stay tuned for my analysis of leadstories.com... who fact-checks the fact-checkers?