Breaking news events are (often unexpected) occurrences of local, national or international importance, which demand special, immediate attention by the news media.
In the midst of a breaking news event—and particularly one related to a crisis, such as a mass shooting—news outlets and social media users sometimes publish information or details about the event that have not yet been confirmed or vetted by official bodies, in an effort to keep the public informed as the event is unfolding.1 This leads to a period of confusion where legitimate information and misinformation may be indistinguishable, and thus creates opportunities for malicious actors to manipulate media coverage or social media attention in order to sow confusion, target individuals, turn a profit, or shape certain narratives.2
Example cases in which campaign operators took advantage of a breaking news event to spread misinformation include “Misidentification: How The #Antifafires Rumor Caught on Like Wildfire” and “Misidentification: Parkland Shooter.”
Breaking news event is a Casebook value under the "Vulnerabilities" variable in the code book.
- 1Justin Lewis and Stephen Cushion, “The Thirst to Be First,” Journalism Practice 3, no. 3 (August 1, 2009): 304–18, https://doi.org/10.1080/17512780902798737.
- 2Jane Lytvynenko, “4. Monitoring for Fakes and Information Operations during Breaking News,” Verification Handbook For Disinformation And Media Manipulation (European Journalism Centre), https://datajournalism.com/read/handbook/verification-3/investigating-actors-content/4-monitoring-for-fakes-and-information-operations-during-breaking-news.