UC Berkeley students work to authenticate photos, videos from conflict zones

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Students from four universities around the world have made it their mission to authenticate videos and photos coming from the ground in conflict zones. UC Berkeley is one of the schools involved through the School of Law's Human Rights Investigations Lab.

Videos or pictures, sent over the internet, have been known to be altered for propaganda purposes.

"The one thing this project will teach you and any student will tell you, is that you need to take everything with a grain of salt," said Haley Willis, a UC Berkeley student.

The origin of a photo can be traced through online sites such as Tineye.com and Google image reverse. Using geo-location students are able to compare a photo to a satellite image of an area.

"For example, if there is a mosque that we can see, we can locate that mosque through satellite imagery to establish that the town where this was supposedly taken is, in fact, that town. If it's authentic, it'll be archived as a factual record to be used by human rights groups," said Alexa Koenig, the lab's executive director.

The four institutions with labs are the University of Pretoria in South Africa, University of Essex, University of Toronto, and UC Berkeley. A fifth University, Cambridge in the United Kingdom is scheduled to join them in the fall.
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