The statement that 50 of the protesters killed at the Gaza Strip border by Israel military were actually Hamas members, was disputed by many news organizations, picked up by many others and is a classic example of the importance of finding Patient Zero for determining the trustworthiness of an information.
Last week (May 14th 2018) the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem sparked a series of protests at the Gaza Strip border, resulting in the death of over 60 Palestinian protesters. As many newspapers worldwide were decrying the deadly shootings of Palestinians by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), the information that many of those killed by the border guards were actually members of Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist group, started making the rounds. The source of the information was difficult to track, as even Wikileaks and WikiTribune founder Jimmy Wales was taking on Twitter asking for help to determine the source of this information:
Metro newspaper says that Hamas has posted online names, pictures, and ranks of the 50 members killed the other day: https://t.co/mTlqYyEj6P But I am not finding that – help?
— Jimmy Wales (@jimmy_wales) May 17, 2018
For this story, the source of information was actually a message from the official Twitter account IDFSpokeperson, using as a source a part of a video interview (in Arabic) from Baldana Facebook page of as senior Hamas representative Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil. However, the actual translation from Arabic has not been verified, and the video statement is taken out of context from a 1-hour long video interview.
Hamas official, Dr. Salah Al-Bardawil is clear about terrorist involvement in the riots pic.twitter.com/p5My6JGQRr
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) May 16, 2018
How to perform a Patient Zero investigation with TrustServista
For any web article, the easiest way to verify its content and find its Patient Zero is by using the TrustServista Chrome Extension, but using the TrustServista Web Dashboard will provide more tools for analytics purposes.
Using the Web Dashboard multipurpose search function reveals when the story surrounding the Gaza protests hit a high, in regards to the volume of content produced:
Searching for the Hamas official’s name (Salah Al-Bardawil, Salah Albardawil) finds 62 articles published between May 16th and 21st, with an overwhelmingly negative tone (92%).
For example, analyzing this article from Fox News (Hamas admits most killed in Gaza violence were its members) reveals more sources of information, all coming from Twitter:
Some referenced tweets are from German BILD journalist Björn Stritzel (verified Twitter account), who also posts images or killed Palestinian protesters in military uniforms, confirming the IDF information that they were actually members of Hamas.
Gaza: First martyrdom pictures coming in, ten killed were members of Hamas’ internal security apparatus. pic.twitter.com/ELm75Tpp25
— Björn Stritzel (@bjoernstritzel) May 15, 2018