Category Archives: Case Studies

Syria Chemical Weapons Attack: Debunking Russia’s False Claim About Video Upload Date

Photo: Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons  (OPCW)-UN Chemical Weapons Team Arrives in Damascus.  October 1, 2013. © UN Photo by Hend Abdel Ghany.

Why is it sometimes important to extract the exact local upload time of a YouTube video? Besides being helpful to find the original video among a host of scraped videos, it can also be crucial to determine the exact timeline of a human rights related event. Getting these facts straight can have significant implications, as for example the Syrian chemical weapons attack from August 21, 2013, has shown.

In response to the attack, Russian authorities at one point claimed that it was a staged event:

“There are reports circulating on the Internet, in particular that the materials of the incident and accusations against government troops had been posted for several hours before the so-called attack. Thus, it was a pre-planned action.” – Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich, August 23, 2013.

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Cairo Clashes: Confirming the Location and Content of a Video

This case study was originally published in Verification Hanbdook: A definitive guide to verifying digital content for emergency coverage

During the violent clashes in Cairo in August 2013 there was one particular YouTube video that received a lot of media attention. (The original video was subsequently removed from YouTube, but can also be viewed here.) The widely used description for this video, which for example appeared in the headline on a Washington Post blog post, was that protesters had pushed a police car off a bridge in Cairo.

Screenshot taken from washingtonpost.com
Screenshot taken from washingtonpost.com

Continue reading Cairo Clashes: Confirming the Location and Content of a Video

Verifying Citizen Video: A Case Study of Destruction from Aleppo

By Richard CozzensThis post was originally published on the WITNESS Blog

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. Continue reading Verifying Citizen Video: A Case Study of Destruction from Aleppo