You can find a lot of individuals and small orgs on Twitter doing stuff like spotting military ships and their cargo, spotting drones on satellite imagery, collecting lists of destroyed heavy weapons, listing ATGM attacks, airstrike victims (airwars.com), geolocating videos/pictures posted to social media, colleting info on chemical attacks (bellingcat), collecting and publishing ISIS documents online, recreating 3D models of some events from public videos/photos, etc.
One example of 3D modelling (they call it forensic architecutre) based on open source data is in this report on Douma attack:
Bellingcat is also a great example of what it shouldn't be. Most of what is produced is misleading at best. Some of the core "experts" (i.e Dan Kaszeta) are closer to propaganda generators than genuine researchers or informed sources.
If you followed Higgins prior to Bellingcat (back when he was "Brown Moses") you'd know he had a strong bias for the rebellion which has since just turned into a strong anti-government bias, strong interventionalism and explicitly anti-Russian.
A great example of how their bias slips into their analyses is examples like the fake sniper boy which fooled a lot of anti-government "experts" to the point where people like Higgins tried to organise witch hunts against the scene director.
As for Hexamine/Sarin attack/Postol issue: Hexamine was found in Sarin attacks by OPCW, it was declared by Syria to OPCW. Postol is not a chemist, nor CW expert, nor on the ground, nor very credible wrt his claims about Syrian chemical attacks, as several of his claims were already rejected by OPCW, who found Syrian regime responsible for the April 4 2017 attack (Postol had all kinds of theories about this attack). I prefer OPCW's conculsions to some random profesor's taking sides and judging from a distance.
You quoted Partisangirl, and I just can't take her seriously as an unbiased source either. Just one recent example of clear bias: Despite big civilian protests last few weeks in Idlib, she only tweeted one picture of some marching jihadists. She's very clearly pro assad-regime, at the expense of truth, accuracy, and peoples lives for that matter.
So yeah, Higgins is biased, but quoting other biased, non-expert sources doesn't really improve the matters.
Re: fake sniper. The experiment can be both revealing of reporting bias and highly irresponsible. People criticized the irresponsibility angle at the time. Witch hunt seems to be your interpretation.
I appreciate that you might have issues with the author of that article but it's not what I was going for. It's unfair to suggest that I'm quoting biased sources when I didn't quote them, just merely wanted to provide context of which video I was talking about.
On the other hand, this seems to be...below...the BBC:
"The government statement makes clear that all these men enjoy the presumption of innocence, and that they will be given a fair trial."
"The two women killed outside Zelevet received no trial at all.
"No presumption of innocence was extended to the children who died with them."
The BBC could have worded its closing tweet more clearly, but I don't think it's wrong for them to reiterate how rich it is for the Cameroonian gov't to make promises of fair trials when it seems to have done its damndest to avoid bringing justice at all.
That is exactly what the BBC tweets suggest to me.
Communication is inexact.
Of course, If I were to take your comment as a criticism of the article, I would be doing the same thing.
(of a newspaper, editor, or broadcasting organization) make comments or express opinions rather than just report the news
News isnt to tell us how to feel. That's a pretty serious rule to break.
Where did you make that up?
 BBC: Impartiality lies at the core of the BBC's commitment to its audiences.
 NPR: Our journalists conduct their work with honesty and respect, and they strive to be both independent and impartial in their efforts.
 SPJ (society of professional journalists): Journalists Should: ... Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
Many newspapers are archived online. It's really phenomenal to see the change in historic and modern reporting. For instance this  is the NYT's reporting on Pearl Harbor and the declaration of war that immediately followed. Keep in mind that this was shortly prior to the mass production of incredibly dehumanizing propaganda and us rounding up hundreds of thousands of people in the west coast who even looked remotely Japanese, telling them to take all they could carry, and throwing them into concentration camps. The point here is to emphasize what the zeitgeist was at that moment in time, yet their reporting remained remarkably true to the ethics most media still claims to hold to, yet rarely practice -- NYT now included among them.
 - https://www.bbc.co.uk/editorialguidelines/guidelines/bbc-edi...
 - http://ethics.npr.org/
 - https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp
 - https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/learning/general...
"Impartial" is not the same as "unemotional". Part of the job of the news is to put what happens in context—not just what happened, but why it matters. News organizations aren't striving to be unfeeling automatons merely spitting out facts.
This  is an absolutely phenomenal article by Robert Kaiser, "The Bad News About the News." Kaiser worked at the Washington Post for more than 50 years as a reporter and editor, leaving only shortly after Bezos purchased the company. It gets into all the facets of the rise and fall of the media, and why things have changed so markedly. I don't really think I can do it justice with cliff notes, other than to give it a strong recommendation if you're really interested in the history of all of this.
 - https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/ref/opinion/samp...
 - http://csweb.brookings.edu/content/research/essays/2014/bad-...
In here, it is a reported a fact that killed women and children received no trial and no presumption of innocence. It highlights asymmetry between trial soldiers will (theoretically) receive and what they have done. That is perfectly fine.
If the reporting made you feel like what soldiers did is symmetrical to them being on trial, then the reporting would be biased.
> Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
That does not imply consumer should feel neutral about those repugnant views. If consumers feel neutral after hearing repugnant views, then journalist sugarcoated those views to make them look more innocent then they are.
An excellent resource I linked above is this . That's a series of historic articles from the NYT on famous events throughout history. You'll invariably find quite impartial articles, yet the facts themselves again speak quite loudly. This , for instance, is their reporting on the sinking of the Titanic. That is just an incredible piece of reporting. And though there are absolutely 0 emotional cues used or even implied, one can nonetheless 'feel' the story through the facts alone.
 - https://static01.nyt.com/packages/pdf/archives/Disasters-Tit...
The titanic report has assumptions in it and its introduction is designed to evoke feels. Not much emotional, but hardly less then topic at hand.
By the same token, if soldiers alleged of a war crime were found to have suffered from a miscarriage of justice, I'd expect the BBC to cover that side too—and I expect they would.
I'm not sure whether it's the medium (Twitter), or the lack of editing that makes them jar in the thread.
I don't actually think the BBC is suggesting the soldiers should be executed out of hand, but I think it weakens the story---I don't need the interpretation, thanks.
To kill unarmed women and children? Sheesh, what would you have written in place of those?
See, you just ditch "enjoy" and "fair" parts and it goes neutral. You don't have to be neutral, but news do.
That the trial is fair is important, and should not be ditched or glossed over.
So, would it be better if they held a trial and then killed them?
Does anyone believe that their innocence or otherwise has anything to do with them being killed?
Are there circumstances that make you think that the killing of children is OK?
It's at least a non-sequitur, possibly self-aggrandising yellow journalism and at worst it could be taken as a start at justification.
Sentences like these give me the creeps.
This happens all the time in the media and politics, and often involves deliberately uncharitable interpretations of what was said.
Using hackneyed phrases cheapens the reaction.
Some other interesting investigative materials from the same podcast (Warning: may contain violence/nsfw etc):
It's hard to watch this sort of footage for me now. Once upon a time when I was younger I could handle it, but with young children the same sort of age it really tears me apart. Though, I think people should be forced to confront it, because it's the only way it's ever going to improve.
One child about 5 or 6 they meet says his mom had to go to the next town to work and had to leave him ... she never came back.
The little boy tells the story as directly as a 5 year old would tell it, he is homeless with no family fending for himself in the streets.
At the time my oldest was 5.... I can't get that child's voice and image out of my head.
Same for me, just one thing:
> Though, I think people should be forced to confront it, because it's the only way it's ever going to improve.
Assuming you can't force anyone to feel empathy, you'd be punishing (and demoralizing) the emphatic and annoying (at best) those that don't care.
Be careful what you want to force on others.
Was thinking more about it for myself - these innocent kids were mercilessly killed, and I should at least take the time to acknowledge their suffering, even if it’s uncomfortable for me.
I'm conflicted about this.
On one hand I agree, and the news performs a vital service in exposing us to the terrible things in our world that we should try to fix.
But on the other, too much news can numb and demoralize you. The US political news cycle is a good example of this too. I can only stand so much of it before having to tune out for a while, even though I want to engage to the extent that I am able.
More important than watching the news is choosing a good couple of charities to donate to, IMO.
Video clearly shows Cameroon military shooting at mother with children. Same as hundreds of other incidents. What’s there to investigate?
Condemn the actions and let the govt face consequences.
While I'm sure no one is happy with this, the war on terror is a dirty war and our partners are less than ethical.
edit: Imagine running this process in reverse. Pick the culprit, time, and location. Then arrange the scene to exactly match the false accusation.
Probably didn't happen here, but in a few years it won't be possible to know the difference.
It seems that trying to actually determine what's true as opposed to just attempting to frame issues in support of your team (or what you already currently believe to be true) is a relatively rare quality.
I guess the silver lining is that while high quality fake videos may make things worse, there's already a pretty deep divide between people who will try and figure out what's true and people who don't. Higher quality fakes may only grab a small percentage of additional people.
I see a dark future ahead of us.
This issue is often talked about as an unsolvable problem, but I feel like we already have the technology to deal with it.
Lots of devices, such as an iPhone already have a secure enclave that can be used for identity. Why not use this to sign videos and images for authentication purposes?
Then certain devices can produce verified, undoctored images and videos. Or even allow some amount of limited tweaking, and editing while attesting to the original.
This could be embedded into the file produced, like exif data, and read by services like Facebook and Twitter to badge the image/video as verified and undoctored. This could improve the amature case significantly.
Professional photography and video equipment could have similar capabilities so originals could be produced and proven to be genuine.
I guess this idea still depends on the hardware devices remaining secure, which is far from trivial, but it does increase the cost of producing a fake. And to keep producing really good fakes, you have to have a zero day to fake a genuine signature, or it becomes know that any media produced with that device version is suspect.
If such a system became widly adopted, at the very least, savvy users, and the media would be suspect of anything not signed. And perhaps the general public would also learn to be skeptical, particularly if the issue of fakes became more widespread.
Furthermore, who controls the keys? The device manufacturers definitely will have access to them (since the signing keys need to be put in the device), and it's not that you need to convince the world that it came from my phone (where you might need to extract a secret from it), you need to convince that the key came from a phone. Once the major governments get a bunch of fake keys that would have/could have been put in a real phone of a major manufacturer, you either admit the inability to discriminate propaganda or you have to automatically distrust all media produced from all phones of that manufacturer, which won't happen, the public will look at such media and believe it or not depending on whether it matches their opinion, not depending on its signature.
Ah yes, but I logged on to Facebook at 8:12am and scrolled my news feed for a moment when I clicked a Chevrolet ad at exactly 8:15am (Facebook knows). I watched the video for exactly 12 seconds (Facebook still knows), then texted to my wife at 8:16am that we should think about getting a new car. I open up Reddit and log in at 8:17am and comment in /r/cars at 8:25 (Reddit knows). I started my Tesla at 8:32am and drove for 28 minutes (Tesla knows) to a Whole Foods, where I saved the location of my parked car (at almost exactly 9:00am) and entered the store. Grabbed a cold brew in a can and paid with my Visa card at 9:04 am (Visa knows), then walked to my office building and badged in through the door at 9:18 (my company knows), just in time to log on to the corporate network and send off a couple e-mails at 9:25, 9:26, and 9:29am. My whole day is tracked, timestamped and corroborated by third-parties already!
If we were able to easily collate the data that our workplaces, our GPS, our phones have on us it would be virtually impossible to place someone in a place they are not! And to go full dystopian, it's not too big a stretch to imagine the government would love to have exactly this.
Now, problem is, if fakes are easy to make, there'll be more of them, particulary if they generate impressions and spread faster than rebutals. And as space of fakes is infinite compared to space of truth, with advanced tools, it can be concocted in such a way that falsifying it might be lengthy process. And, in some cases there, it may be too late.
to YC this year. Definitely something that needs thinking about
Zero-knowledge proofs might also have some applications for multimedia verification.
I wonder if smartphone makers could include some kind of hardware chip to verify the authenticity of videos. I don't think it's possible to build an unbreakable solution, but you could just make it very expensive.
The camera device could use a chip that included an HSM module, and it could use steganography to create verifiable videos. Each private key could be tied to a unique device ID in the maker's database. This might even be a legitimate use for blockchain. The device maker could create chainpoint proofs that include device IDs and public keys and embed them in Bitcoin transactions.
The HSM would be tamper-resistant, so it would be very expensive to extract the private key from the chip, or you'd have to collude with the device maker.
All of this is a moot point if you can just jailbreak the phone, fake the GPS and accelerometer data, put the camera in front of a screen, and play some audio into the microphones. I wonder if there are ways to detect video and audio that have been replayed through a projector/speaker instead of recorded in the real world. It's probably difficult to get it pixel perfect and replay perfect audio, and a neural net could probably be trained to spot any errors. Or maybe the projector/audio chip makers could include some steganography in their output. They might include an undetectable signal to indicate that this data is being replayed through a device, instead of recorded in the real world.
But then if someone wanted to commit a crime and get away with it, they could reverse engineer the signals from these projector/audio chips, and play those in the background. So any recorded videos could be discounted as a fake.
Also, I was thinking about how this could be used to prevent piracy when people record the screens in a movie theater. The studios could include a signal in the video, and the smartphone/video camera makers could stop recording when they detect that signal. But then a criminal could just hold up a screen with some copyrighted content, and everyone's phones and security cameras would stop recording.
If phones ever come with light-field cameras, it would also be a lot harder to fake. We'd have to invent realistic light-field projectors, but that would be pretty awesome. I've always wanted a holodeck.
This has been fun to think about. Would make some interesting Black Mirror episodes.
Makes me wonder if that 2D mountain range projection could be used to 'search' through a 3D map for a match.
I have very little knowledge about this kind of problem, but to me, it seems like a solvable problem - there has been some interesting work in reconstructing 3D models from photographs of objects (I have a friend who did his masters in something similar) and I don't doubt that people working on that type of problem would likely have some ideas for approaching this one.
Though to make it tractable one would perhaps want to "weight" the algorithm / start the search from likely vantage points (i.e. from inside cities / on top of buildings, and along roads), and take some discrete samples of what the mountain range would look like at various angles from that point.
I wonder if it would be possible to do something similar to a binary search or Newton's method type thing where if you have two nearby points looking at the same mountain range, you could figure out the probability that the actual vantage point lies somewhere in the vague area between those points, and so get a better idea of where to take more precise samples after you've started with a few discrete samples.
Doing it with 2d video and not having precise starting coordinates, speed/heading/altitude makes the search space larger but I think that is more than made up for by the fact that you're not trying to do it all on embedded hardware from the 80s.
Sounds like a fun data science project. (Draw a ridge and get a google street view image whose horizon matches the ridge as closely as possible, maybe? Might be fun to play with!)
> After a tip off from a Cameroonian source, we found an exact match for that ridge line on Google Earth
For example is this soldiers initiative or part of a general tactics encouraged by the higher command?
Was the execution justified (i.e. motivated, that is, it was not a cover up or a random killing)?
I can come up with few reasons to kill the woman but why the child? Is there some message behind this killing?
Naturally these questions do not matter for despising such behaviour but are important to help to understand the human nature.
I always believe that understanding is important. There are those who think "Understanding==Condoning", which I find a tremendously, and needlessly, false equivalency. I think you need to understand, to trully fight and hopefully defeat something.
How far does the atrocity go? What are the causes? Is this a one-of or repeated act? Who all is involved? And, ultimately, What are the inflection points that can lead to effective prevention?
"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it."
If you demonize and dehumanize your ideological opponents - and even true enemies - you won't be able to understand them well enough to effectively counter them.
It's something I'd really like to know, after reading through this. I don't understand anything but the most superficial issues facing this region, and it rather shocked me that the national military that's up there to quell the Boko Haram insurgency is committing these atrocities.
I mean, yes, people kill people for fun. People kill children because they're monsters, and I get that. But is that what's happening here? Or is this ethnic cleansing? Or is this something else entirely?
Anyway, it's clarified as motivated.
i.e. what was the murderer's justification or motivation.
For the particular case it might not but for general reaction it does.
This is my favorite example of gathering data just from examining a video: https://www.bellingcat.com/resources/case-studies/2014/08/22...
So, good old fashioned journalism?
You've made this point twice in the comments. What are you getting at?
It’s incredible boot leather investigative journalism in 2018 and doesn’t need to be qualified. What are you? A paper salesman?
Where did they mention that they used social media to get the tip? Or are you referring to the fact that the video spread via social media (which wouldn't have happened x years ago) and presumably led someone to reach out to them? Not being argumentative, just curious.
Some people have very binary thought processes.
They claim that the first mountain ridge was located by a tip from a Cameroonian source. Here they verify the ridge with the mountain ridges from a height map.
But later on without mentioning any tip or source they "found" an Channel4 news report in archives with again a mountain ridge match. I consider 3) possibilities:
1) They manually watched all the footage from the last few years in that area, freeze framing them whenever they see a mountain ridge, then manually trace it. I don't believe this is what happened, that's too many man hours.
2) They knew through other means (perhaps camera gps location metadata, perhaps report description/summary) that the report video was taken near the massacre video. Because of this metadata/textual data they were able to realize they had nearby footage of an outpost by querying for the massacre location. But then they fail to mention this trivial step and make a bit of a show by highlighting some features and again a mountain ridge. So in this case they have a database of archive footage and filter by location/time.
3) They have automated software for isolating mountain ridge profiles from footage (perhaps edge detection? remove all edges that don't appear to undergo rigid body motion? but how filter clouds etc?), and matching software for locating where on the heightmap it the footage was made. In this case it is explainable without ridiculous man hours or ridiculous showmanship (instead of mentioning say GPS coordinate metadata of the journalism camera). But in this case perhaps BBC could share this code with the public?
> As Africans, we like saying "African solutions to African problems" yet it is funny that we continue relying on international media to relay accurate information and challenge governments' positions all over the continent. Great job BBC Africa!
Btw recent released reports by Radio France International shows Christians now outnumber Muslims in Boko Haram making Boko Haram now a Christian group. Probably why no one talks about them anymore. You only like shrieking about one specific group of people and selective amnesia for others.
You probably got downvoted for the first part of that sentence, not the second part.
Le Pen, who lost to Emmanuel Macron in last year's presidential vote, is facing charges of circulating "violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity" and that can be viewed by a minor.
I think it’s worth noting that, as despicable as some of their work can be, Anon pioneered this kind of digital forensic work.
Though perhaps you were attempting to make a droll remark regarding the powerful nature of AI and its capacity to be used for both good and evil?