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How InVid can help you verify those doubtful videos

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In May 2020, an image screenshot of a report from CNN which claimed that the Nigerian government was lying about the presence of COVID-19 in the country for corrupt reasons, surfaced online. 

The visual which shows CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer interviewing New York mayor Bill de Blasio had a textual display which boldly reads, “COVID-19 cases in Nigeria are false because the government is taking advantage of it to embezzle, launder money and enrich itself (sic),” 

It turned out that the said report was nowhere on CNN’s website and the news hasn’t been reported by any credible media outlet. It was just one of those malicious deceptions. 

Not just that, it also came to suggest that a popular meme generator, breakyourownnews.com which allows users to add text and photos to create memes that look like screenshots of news reports, was used to generate that image that misinformed the public.  

With all ethical issues surrounding the business of disseminating information in a digital environment, emerging media users/consumers should be concerned about picture manipulation, especially through the use of computers. 

Computer technology puts photographic faking on a new level of concern as images can be digitized and manipulated without the slightest indication of such trickery. 

For example, following the scaremongering occasioned by the COVID-19 outbreak last year, a screenshot with a photo of a train tanker that seems to have “COVID-19” stamped on its side was widely shared on Facebook and WhatsApp but a fact-check revealed that it was one of many rail tanker cars owned by the US train company GATX. 

Beyond the COVID-19 chain of misinformation, even institutions have been caught to have used manipulated images to peddle fake news. The Nigeria Police Force in December last year shared photoshopped pictures of arrested crime suspects. 

The trend is not surprising, psychological research has shown that visuals are the most potent form of misinformation as they change the way people consume and remember news. 

This has been buttressed in a December 2020 report published by the first indigenous fact-checking outfit in Nigeria, Dubawa, which revealed that a content analysis of fact-check of claims on #EndSARS protest identified images as the most manipulated contents. It further disclosed that over 50 percent of the claims were presented in image format, unlike audio that has no claim, despite its popular use on WhatsApp.

But detecting this manipulation by almost anyone sometimes does not require much effort, understanding or skill to accomplish or deal with. 

InVID Verifier Browser Extension to the Rescue

Modern software and computer skill has made manipulation of photographs easier to carry out and harder to uncover than ever before, but the technology also enables various proven methods of detecting doctored images, one of which is the InVID Verifier Browser extension. 

This plugin has been designed as an instant verification tool that allows you to quickly get contextual information anywhere online, especially on Social Networks like Facebook and Twitter images which saves time by enabling an instant fact-checking with just a click once the extension is installed on your PCs Chrome browser

Understanding Browser Extensions 

A browser extension is something like a plugin for your browser that adds certain functions and features to it in order to enhance functionality. Extensions can modify the user interface or add some Web service functionality to your browser.

For example, extensions are used to block ads on Web pages, track online orders or translate text from one language to another and so on. Almost all popular browsers support extensions. 

Getting Started with the InVID Verifier Extension

You can find the InVID Verifier Browser extension here and then click on the download/add to chrome option at the extreme right of the page header which will then automatically install the plugin on your browser.

Once installed, it allows you to automatically perform reverse image search on Google, Yandex, Bing, Tineye, Baidu or Karma Decay (for Reddit) search engines, or to query the new Database of Known Fakes (DBKF), to enhance and explore keyframes and images through a magnifying lens, to query Twitter more efficiently through time intervals and through a new Social Network Analysis module, to read video and image metadata, to check the video copyrights, to quickly search for fact checks or cross-network queries, and to apply a new enhanced forensic toolbox on  images suspected of being manipulated.

This can be done by simply right clicking on any image/video from any web page you are are surfing or want to fact-check, the click on the InVID Verifier option which comes at the bottom of the options on display and then all the option listed above will appear for you to click your preferred option as seen in the photos below: 

On a ‘Pandora Papers’ image, we clicked on the image forensic option to detect possible manipulations.

On a Google video result, we click on the ‘video contextual analysis’ option of the browser extension.

Easy to run a reverse image search as seen on this facebook image

The Image magnifier interface of the plugin 

Magnified image

An image forensic examination that shows some possible manipulation. 

So, wherever you are on the internet and whatever image or video you come across, always remember that visuals are the most potent form of misinformation and let your InVID Verifier Browser Extension come handy!

The researcher produced this media literacy article per the Dubawa 2021 Kwame Kari Kari Fellowship partnership with PRNigeria to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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