Viral Social Media Videos

Check the time when the video was filmed. If there are shadows visible, you can determine when the video was shot by checking their directions against a specific time of year using tools like Suncalc. That could help you either verify or debunk a video based on its timeframe.

If the video takes place outside, use geolocation software to check whether it’s actually where it claims to be. Google Earth and Wikimapia, a user-annotated collection of satellite imagery, are good tools for this.

Download the video and check out its metadata. While most social media platform strip this information out once someone uploads it, if you have the source material, there might be clues as to the videos origin. Try using your computer’s native file browser or things like Exiftool.

If pulling individual frames from InVid doesn’t work, try slowing the video down using software like VLC to see the transitions. With fake videos, it’s relatively easy to tell when a scene is doctored if you watch in slow motion. Alternatively, try using FFmpeg to get more detailed key frames, then run a reverse image search.

See if the details of the video change depending on the sharer. If one post claims a video takes place in one country while another say it doesn’t, that should cause some pause. “The backstories for hoax videos are frequently changed to cater to certain audiences,” Evan said. Additionally, watch the video and read its accompanying text separately to determine whether or not what it claims to depict is plausible.
Use tools like Amnesty International’s YouTube Dataviewer or download the InVid browser extension. While the former focuses exclusively on YouTube, the latter allows people to paste a link from YouTube, Facebook or Twitter to get more information about its origins, as well as pull out key frames for further inspection.
Second, there’s currently no way to see which videos are going viral on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. They’re essentially block boxes, and fact-checkers regularly gripe about how it makes their jobs harder. (Although there has been progress with fact-checking images on Facebook.)

Then there’s the fact that fake videos are getting easier to create and harder to detect. So-called “deepfake” technology draws upon artificial intelligence to alter images and even superimpose celebrities’ heads on other people’s bodies.

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