How do I verify an online video?
Issued on: Modified:
A photo may be worth a thousand words and have powers of persuasion that outstrip text, but it can’t compete with a video. Videos are harder to manipulate, but they are also harder to verify. These days, many people use modified videos to spread misinformation across the internet. So here are a few tips for verifying them.
As with photos, there are two main ways of manipulating videos. The first is simple-- writing a caption that includes false information. The second is an actual technical manipulation of the video itself.
Identify old videos used out of context
You can do the same thing with video. A video is essentially made up of a large number of photos placed one after another in rapid succession. So to search for a video, you can take a few screengrabs and then pop those into a search engine.
There are two different tools to help you do this.
- Amnesty YouTube Dataviewer : This tool, which was put online by Amnesty International in 2014, can verify if a YouTube video has already been posted on the platform before. The tool, which is very easy to use, sometimes pulls up interesting results, but it is pretty limited. If a video was slightly modified-- shortened for example-- then the tool can’t be used to find the original video. And it only works on YouTube.
Amnesty established that this video, which was widely shared on social media in Turkey by people who claimed that it showed the Turkish army in Afin, Syria, was, in fact, filmed in the Netherlands. More details here.
- InVid (In Video Veritas) is a new tool that is more comprehensive and more technical. It is meant for journalists who want to verify images circulating on social media. You can use it to do reverse image searches on videos posted to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo, Dailymotion, LiveLeak and Dropbox. Download the InVid plugin here.
In May 2016, an EgyptAir plane crashed, making international headlines. A few days later, a video started circulating on social media. The caption claimed that it showed what was happening inside the plane several instants before the crash. If you run a search using screengrabs from the video, you can quickly establish its true origin. Here are the steps to follow.
1) Copy the video link
2) Paste the link into the “Keyframes” window in InVid and click “Submit”
3) Click through the thumbnails one by one until you find an interesting result.
In this case, the original video appears in the second thumbnail.
Thanks to this search, you can see that this video was filmed a few days before the EgyptAir crash on board an Etihad Airlines plane that was flying between Jakarta and Abu Dhabi. During this flight, there was a lot of turbulence. One of the passengers filmed the panic that spread throughout the plane (luckily, they ended up landing safely).
You can find out more information about the way that we verified this video in our article first published in May 2016.
Find out more about what you can do on InVid by watching this tutorial.
Can I verify a video on my smartphone ?
For the time being, neither InVid nor Amnesty YouTube Dataviewer are available for smartphones.
We will update this section if that changes!