Category Archives: How To

DatNav: Researching Human Rights in the Digital Age

From online videos of war crimes, to satellite images of rights violations in areas as reclusive as North Korea, to eyewitness accounts disseminated on social media, we have access to more relevant data today than ever before.

These new data streams open up new opportunities for human rights documentation, and have a profound impact on how we conduct research at Amnesty International. For example, we recently used cell-phone video footage and satellite images to uncover a likely mass grave in Burundi. Due to lack of physical access, our work on Syria also relies heavily on content shared through social media and satellite image analysis. Continue reading DatNav: Researching Human Rights in the Digital Age

Protecting yourself from trauma on the digital frontline

Editors note: Guest contribution by Sam Dubberley from the Eyewitness Media Hub about their new study on the risk of secondary trauma when working with citizen media. The study is based on an online survey of 209 professionals in the journalism, human rights and humanitarian field, in addition to 38 in-depth interviews and a review of relevant literature. 

I work on the Digital Frontline – how should I protect myself from the traumatic content I’m seeing?

We at Eyewitness Media Hub have just completed a research project entitled Making Secondary Trauma a Primary Issue: A Study of Eyewitness Media and Vicarious Trauma on the Digital Frontline. In this research, we report on how human rights organizations and their managers need to start taking the issue of vicarious trauma seriously when asking researchers and investigators at headquarters to use eyewitness media or user-generated content (eyewitness media or UGC refers to photographs or videos captured by people around the world on their smartphones and used by, for example, human rights, humanitarian or news organizations) to investigate potential human rights violations.  Our research shows that human rights organizations are failing in their duty of care to professionals working with this content, and that these professionals are scared about admitting to their managers that they are having a hard time dealing with some of the more distressing images they are seeing day in day out. Continue reading Protecting yourself from trauma on the digital frontline

How citizen video and free tech tools helped us expose war crimes in Nigeria

Previously published in New African Magazine and International Business Times – Also available in Spanish and French

In March 2014 a grainy cell phone video came across my desk that seemed to show a Nigerian soldier murdering an unarmed man in broad daylight. It took me a day and a half to pinpoint the location of this apparent war crime to a specific street corner in Maiduguri, the state capital of Borno and a city of more than 500,000 people.

Confirming the location of an incident is a crucial step in the authentication process, so finding this fact was highly relevant to reference the footage in a report we published on 31 March 2014, exposing war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Nigerian military and Boko Haram.  Continue reading How citizen video and free tech tools helped us expose war crimes in Nigeria

New Verification Handbook For Investigative Work

Good news for investigators: The European Journalism Center today published a handbook on how to use and verify user-generated content in in-depth investigations. It is a companion handbook to the original Verification Handbook, which focused on breaking news, and includes my chapter on using user-generated content in human rights investigations.

The need for such a resource is enormous. Both journalists and human rights investigators are increasingly confronted with a torrent of citizen media shared through digital social networks in real-time. The risks of overlooking relevant content or getting it outright wrong are very real. However, the benefits of effectively and ethically integrating open source materials into in-depth investigations are huge. Continue reading New Verification Handbook For Investigative Work

How To: Extract Exact Upload Time And Thumbnails From YouTube Videos

It is possible to extract hidden information from YouTube video. This can be a relatively cumbersome process that can be simplified through our YouTube Data Viewer.

Step 1:  Go to the YouTube Data Viewer

Step 2: Enter the URL of your video and hit enter Continue reading How To: Extract Exact Upload Time And Thumbnails From YouTube Videos

How To: Perform A Reverse Image Search

A “reverse image search” allows you to search the internet for previous versions of the same picture. This is crucial for determining if an old image is being “recycled” as new. Especially during emergencies, old pictures are often posted online, and go viral due to uncritical re-sharing through social networks (this happens regularly both during complex emergencies and natural disasters).

Further, a reverse image search can also allow you to track down the original uploader of an image.

Tip: A reverse image search can also be highly useful to track down previous versions of YouTube videos! In this case, perform a reverse image search with the thumbnails that are created by YouTube when uploading a video (all three thumbnails created by YouTube can be extracted through the YouTube Data Viewer).

Continue reading How To: Perform A Reverse Image Search

How To: Extract Audio Only From A YouTube Video

In case you’d like to do an analysis of the audio of a video, there’s a very easy way to extract the audio, using the handy 4K Video Downloader software.

Step 1: Install 4K Video Downloader

Step 2: Copy the video link 

 Step 3: Open 4K Video Downloader on your computer and click “Paste URL”

Copy the YouTube video link before hitting the "Paste URL" button.
Copy the YouTube video link before hitting the “Paste URL” button.

Continue reading How To: Extract Audio Only From A YouTube Video