The quantity of citizen video emerging from the Syrian conflict, combined with the lack of professional journalists on the ground, has resulted in a massive amount of citizen media for researchers and journalists to sort through and analyze. In cases of videos that depict likely violations of international humanitarian law, the potential for them to be used as evidence is exciting but demands a process of authentication. This is especially important since all sides of the conflict realize the power of shocking videos to bolster their own claims of victimhood or triumphalism and post or promote them accordingly. The potential for media to be mis-attributed and then widely shared on social media emphasizes the vital importance of verification.
Groups like Witness and Storyful are leading the way in working to support citizen journalists and establish standards for verifying social media reports and videos. This three-part case study demonstrates how Amnesty International’s Crisis Response and Prevention Team uses citizen videos to monitor the war in Syria.
In this case study we are locating and verifying a video of apparent bombing damage in Aleppo in September of 2012. (The verification process is also detailed in this step-by-step video.)