Over the coming weeks, we will publish an archive mini-series that gives a behind-the-scenes look into the verification work that goes into each piece of content that we publish to our clients.
The mini-series also shows how we developed and integrated our verification practices into our newsroom workflow.
We begin with the first video we produced: an anti-corruption protest in Aden, Yemen, in September 2018.
The Ruptly Verification Unit was established in our newsroom in September 2018, and launched publicly eight months later, in May 2019. During that intervening period, much effort went into workflow development, training our newsroom staff and building up a video production process.
Within the unit, we produce three types of video: explain, insight and investigation.
To date, we have published investigation and insight videos.
Our mini-series will focus on ‘explain’ videos, which cater for our everyday workflow and are based on the principles of verification: source, date and location.
Our purpose — when producing this particular ‘explainer’ video — was to develop a workflow that would result in an end-product that clearly shows the viewer how we verify the footage we receive from our network of freelance cameramen working across the globe.
In the video, we show how we use some fundamental verification methods, such as the comparison of image assets and combing satellite and geospatial mapping tools to match-up visual elements.
Here we outline the full process behind each verified video: authenticating source, date and location.
We received the video on the day of the protest, September 27, 2018, via our cameraman in Aden.
We uploaded the footage to InVid — a platform that provides various services which help detect, authenticate and check the reliability and accuracy of newsworthy video files.
Next, we searched for duplicate footage on social media using keywords related to the protest and location — we scanned thumbnails in Facebook and YouTube, and reviewed findings on Twitter. We found no matching trace of any exact images contained within the video sent to us by our cameraman.
The video is of a high quality and not compressed, therefore it couldn’t have originated on Instagram or Snapchat. However, we scanned both platforms for public posts geolocated to Aden for anything resembling the images contained in our video.
We found no images on any other social media platform that were an exact duplicate of the footage sent to us by our cameraman.
Our video matches the visuals of a user-generated content (UGC) asset uploaded by one of our Aden-based sources to Facebook — via Snapchat.
This timestamp on the image confirmed the date of the protest as Thursday, 27 September, 2018.
While scanning Facebook we also found another UGC video — which is not verified as the uploader is not the original source — that can nonetheless be used as evidence to corroborate the date of this protest as September 27, based on the timestamp of the Facebook post:
The marching band wearing pink shirts is clearly visible in the video at the beginning of the video.
See the below comparison:
In each screenshot we can also see the same tall white building, flanked by trees, visible in the background.
Our video was recorded in the Crater district of Aden, close to Sira Fortress.
Below is a screenshot from our footage. We can see the fortress in the background — over the right shoulder of the man in the white shirt. The topography of the fortress clearly matches this image from mapio. The fortress is also referred to as Serah castle.
Protesters marched through the Crater area of Aden past the Aban Mosque. The architecture of the building in the footage sent to us by our stinger correlates with this mosque.
The next post in our archive mini-series will look at how we validated frontline footage of Iraq’s military offensive against ISIS in November 2018.