Photo: Screenshot of a video from the Syrian conflict after it has been removed by YouTube. Screenshot taken from YouTube.
The most compelling evidence of a human rights violation captured on video can be lost if investigators do not save the video in question. YouTube videos are often removed, either by the uploader themself, or by YouTube because of violations of its community guidelines. It is thus most crucial for any researcher to first save any video that is being investigated. This is for preservation purposes only.
Videos on YouTube are only showing the upload date, but not the exact time of upload. This can be important to find the original uploader of a video, and also helps to avoid confusion and incorrect claims about the upload date. The most prominent example for this was the false claim by Russian authorities that the chemical weapons attack in Syria from August 21, 2013, was staged, since some of the videos showed an upload date of August 20.
GeoGuessr is an website that uses Google Street View to make users guess at what location they are. It’s a fun way to sharpen your geo-locating skills, which are highly useful in confirming the location of user-generated content.
Below are three different challenges. Each challenge consists of five different locations that players have to identify (or make a best guess). The level of difficulty is determined by how much time a player has per location.
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.
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→