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Part II, 9 How to Verify and Authenticate User-generated Content

Aric Toler

From: Digital Witness: Using Open Source Information for Human Rights Investigation, Documentation, and Accountability

Edited By: Sam Dubberley, Alexa Koenig, Daragh Murray

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 22 July 2024

Access to justice — Right to truth — International criminal law — Conduct of proceedings — Evidence — Corroboration

After discovering instances of suspected human rights abuses, the next step in verification is affirming the veracity of user-generated content, namely the content, place, time, and originality of a photograph or video. The process of verification allows researchers to use discovered materials with confidence for either human rights advocacy or as evidence in attempts to bring perpetrators to account. The challenges of verifying a piece of user-generated content can differ in each case, with no single ‘silver bullet’ to solve every problem. Because of this, patience and creativity are just as important as the digital toolset in conducting verification. This chapter goes through a systematic consideration of verification, covering why verification is an essential step in human rights investigations, how to determine the original source of a material, and methods that can be used to ascertain that a photograph or video was captured at the same time and place of the incident under question.

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