The Columbia Journalism Review recently called NPR social-media strategist Andy Carvin, who's turned his Twitter feed into an invaluable fire hose of on-the-ground updates on the uprisings in the Arab world, a "verification machine" for his efforts to identify the sources behind the information his army of Twitter followers share with him. "Some of these folks are working to actively overthrow their local regimes," he told CJR. "I just have to be aware of that at all times." This morning provided a vivid illustration of the difficulty foreign journalists like Carvin face in sifting through the citizen journalism emerging from the protests in the Middle East and North Africa and sharing that critical information with their readers.
At around 10 a.m. EST, Carvin linked to a graphic video, uploaded on May 8, showing gunmen spraying a man with bullets. The video's title and description suggested in Arabic that the footage showed Syrian security forces firing on a man in the Syrian city of Homs, where the regime recently dispatched tanks as part of an escalated crackdown on protesters. The profile for the user who uploaded the video, bilal1989100, says the user joined YouTube on the day of the upload and hails from Saudi Arabia. In introducing the video, Carvin wrote, "Horrible, graphic video showing dead man getting riddled with bullets from an ak47, reportedly Homs Syria."