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The force of falsity

The force of falsity

In a lecture given at the University of Bologna in the mid-nineties, entitled “The force of falsity” and later included in English in his book “Serendipities”, Italian semiologist Umberto Eco reviewed several historical false stories and argued that those false tales, “as narratives, seemed plausible, more than everyday or historical reality, which is far more complex and less credible. The stories seemed to explain something that was otherwise hard to understand”

And he added: “False tales are, first of all, tales, and tales, like myths, are always persuasive”

During the CrossCheck operation on the 2017 French presidential election, one of the debunked stories was a video of a man presented on social networks as a migrant assaulting nurses in a French hospital (see screenshot of the tweet below).

Fake tweet about a migrant being violent in a France hospital

Fake tweet about a migrant being violent to the nurse of a hospital in France

The video was disgusting. “We treat them and and they are thankful: the proof… Here is what the media is hiding from you” could be read in the first caption while later copies blamed a migrant seeking free healthcare for the barbarian act and started to campaign in favor of withdrawing universal medical care.

But that migrant was in fact a Russian citizen in a Novgorod (Russia) hospital, drunk according to the local press and caught one month before by a monitoring camera. The video was reported in several Russian news publications.

An image similarity search on keyframes (using the InVID Verification Plugin) was enough to retrieve that Russian video and to conclude that this barbarian act was used out of context to spread an insidious xenophobic campaign. Debunked by ten French media, that video reached fifteen millions views on Facebook.

Being an emblematic fake in France was not sufficient: that very same video was used again and again in the following days and weeks at least in Italy, Spain, Belgium, Turkey, then France again, always as a migrant locally attacking hospital staff members, triggering again several millions views and more debunks. Retrieval of the same video was possible thanks to the use of InVID keyframe fragmentation technology.

Furthermore, months after the debunk, an image similarity search on a keyframe would retrieve correctly several fact-checkers websites but would also lead on Google to an artificial intelligence “best guess for this image” presenting it as “a nurse beaten by a migrant”.

Although the above example is only reaching the first of the five stages of election meddling proposed by Finnish researcher Mika Aaltola (“using disinformation to amplify suspicions and divisions”), it shows the level of insidious manipulation that circulates with impunity on social networks to favor, often over a long period of time, extremism and racism, and their political allies. 

As French researcher François-Bernard Huyghes rightly pointed out: “the goal is to make (the voter) political choice appear to be spontaneous: I believe A, therefore I receive a message telling me that candidate Y thinks so as well. According to this model, we have gone from a strategy of mass political persuasion dumped by the media, to targeted soliciting tailored to our deepest wishes.”

In our societies already shaken by economic crisis and mass unemployment, we should not underestimate the force of falsity.

* Paper initially presented by Mr. Denis Teyssou (AFP) at the High-Level Conference on Election Interference in the Digital Age, building resilience to cyber-enabled threats, organized in Brussels on 15-16th of October 2018 by the European Political Strategy Center

The InVID Verification tools at EJTA 2018

The InVID Verification tools at EJTA 2018

The InVID technologies for newsworthy content discovery and verification will be presented by the CERTH team at the EJTA Teacher’s Conference 2018 that will take place in Thessaloniki, Greece, on 18-19 of October 2018.

Furthermore, the different verification components of the InVID Verification Plugin will be demonstrated through a hands-on session. The participants of this session will have the chance to follow a step-by-step procedure for installing the plugin, and using it in a number of several examples of fake news debunking, using the different verification components of the plugin.

The program of the event is available here.

A wrap-up of the InVID presence at IBC 2018

InVID presence at IBC 2018

The InVID project was invited to participate in the Future Zone of the International Broadcast Convention (IBC), that took place in Amsterdam on 14-18 of September, to demonstrate the developed integrated tools for newsworthy content discovery and verification.

A few hundred visitors from TV channels, media organizations, software houses and research organizations passed through the InVID booth, that was nicely located between the BBC R&D booth and our colleagues from the COGNITUS project, to check the functionalities of the InVID technologies. More specifically, these visitors were introduced to:

  • the freely-available InVID Verification Plugin, a browser extension that offers a set of analysis components for debunking fake videos online;
  • the InVID Verification Application, a web-based integrated technology with advanced content management and verification functionalities (beyond the ones supported by the free plugin);
  • the InVID Multimodal Analytics Dashboard, a web-based platform for newsworthy contentc collection and discovery;
  • and the InVID Mobile App, a mobile application (available for both iOS and Android users) that enables newsworthy content contribution to media organizations by the public (i.e. trusted citizens/users of the app).

Our participation in IBC allowed us to get in touch with potential customers of the InVID technologies, such as mainstream television groups, providers of social media feeds for broadcasters and also international television networks. Indicative dissemination and promotion activities of our presence in IBC are the following.

Rolf Fricke (Condat) was interviewed about InVID and the InVID technologies, on a live Radio show by Myrte van der Putten.

Marco Lawrenz (Condat) presented the verification functionalities of the InVID Plugin, to ZDF producers.

A collaborative demonstration of the established communication between the CONGITUS platform (used for UGV content enhancement) and the InVID Verification Plugin (used for UGV content verification), was made with the help of our partners from the CONGITUS project.

A big THANK YOU for visiting the InVID booth and showing your strong interest to the InVID solutions for newsworthy content discovery and verification!

Visit InVID at IBC 2018

Visit InVID at IBC 2018

InVID has a booth in the IBC 2018 Exhibition – the top annual business conference and exhibition of the media, entertainment and technology industry, held in RAI Amsterdam, Sept. 14-18, 2018.

Meet InVID in the Future Zone of IBC 2018, Hall 8, stand 8.F16. We will be there to showcase the latest InVID tools and technologies, and discuss with you how InVID can address your individual video and news verification needs.

InVID Plugin surpassed 4000 installations – New release available

We are thrilled to inform you that the InVID Verification Plugin has surpassed 4000 installations! A big thank you to all of you who are using this tool for media verification, and motivate us to make it even better!

In addition, we are glad to announce the release of a new version of this tool, which:

  • contains a GDPR-compatible cookie consent,
  • enables the users to directly apply the forensics filters on any extracted/collected keyframe or submitted image,
  • allows the application of reverse image search using the KarmaDecay and the Bing search engines via its contextual menu, and
  • has a number of bugs fixed.

To get the new Chrome- and Firefox-compatible versions of the plugin, please visit http://invid-project.eu/verify

Presentation of InVID verification technologies at JUDNM-T

InVID verification technologies at JUDNM-T

The InVID project and the InVID verification technologies, were presented on a workshop focusing on tools for content verification. The workshop was co-organized by CERTH/InVID and the Media Informatics Lab of the Journalism & Mass Media Dept. of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, in collaboration with the Open Knowledge Greece Foundation and the Journalists’ Union of Daily Newspapers of Macedonia – Thrace (JUDNM-T). It took place on Wednesday 6th of June 2018, in the conference centre of JUDNM-T, in Thessaloniki, Greece. The audience of the workshop (approximately 40 people), was comprised by journalists, academics and Master students of the Journalism & Mass Media Dept.

After the introductory part of the event, which was made by Prof. Andreas Veglis, the workshop started by an overall presentation of the InVID project by Dr. Vasileios Mezaris, the project co-ordinator. Dr. Mezaris explained the project’s motivation with the help of some indicative examples of fake news. Following, he described the project’s goals and overall concept for meeting these goals, and briefly discussed the developed integrated technologies for newsworthy media collection and verification. The given presentation can be seen below.

Subsequently, Mr. Evlampios Apostolidis from CERTH-ITI, gave a talk on fake news that rely on video reuse. In particular, Mr. Apostolidis presented some examples of such fakes, discussed the most common approaches of journalists to deal with this type of fake news and explained how the InVID technologies can assist journalists to identify the original video source. For this, he presented the developed web application for video fragmentation and reverse keyframe search, that enables the users/journalists to perform reverse video search at the fragment-level, and detect previously published versions of the same video online. The given presentation can be found below.

Following, Dr. Symeon Papadopoulos from CERTH-ITI, discussed the current status on the creation and spread of fake news and rumors via social networks and listed a number of credibility signals that could allow a user (i.e. a journalist or a media verification expert) to evaluate the veracity of a news item. Finally, we presented the functionalities and characterists of the developed context analysis and aggregation toolkit that has been developed in InVID and is integrated in the InVID Verification Plugin, and highlighted the creation (and future public release) of a constantly extendable Fake Video Corpus, that can support the current and future reseach on this field.

The first part of the workshop ended with a presentation focusing on image forensics analysis, made by Dr. Markos Zampoglou from CERTH-ITI. Dr. Zampoglou explained the existing challenges related to the detection of tampering of digital images, highlighting the fact that the sharing of these images via social media platforms entails a re-compression process that usually erases most of the digital traces that could assist the identification of manipulations. Based on this observation, he stressed the need to analyse the most earliest version of a digital image, and discussed the funtionalities of the REVEAL Media Verificaiton Assistant that is integrated in the InVID Verification Plugin. The given presentation can be seen in the following.

The second part of the workshop was a hands-on session, where the participants of the workshop had the opportunity to get activelly involved in a step-by-step process containing:

  • the installation of the InVID Verification Plugin for both Chrome and Firefox users (made by Evlampios Apostolidis);
  • a brief explanation of all different components integrated in the plugin (given by Evlampios Apostolidis);
  • a real-time debunking of a couple of examples of fake news based on video re-use (performed by Evlampios Apostolidis);
  • a real-time debunking of a couple of examples of fake news based on context change (performed by Olga Papadopoulou, also from CERTH-ITI);
  • a real-time debunking of a couple of examples of fake news based on image tampering (performed by Markos Zampoglou).

The aforementioned examples were used for demonstration purposes, while an additional set of examples was provided to the participants of the workshop, aiming to motivate them to discover the functionalities, capabilities and limitations of the different components of the plugin, and send us their feedback (via the integrated survey) concerning their experience with this tool.

InVID plugin surpassed 3000 downloads

InVID plugin surpassed 3000 downloads

We are very pleased to announce that our free plugin that supports video verification has surpassed 3.000 downloads. The functionalities of this integrated toolbox for content verification are now widely used by journalists, experts of the human rights community, and others dealing with video verification.

We thank all users and supporters of this technology and we promise to make it even better! Would you like to help us on this? Then, simply take the survey and give us feedback about the tool!

If you haven’t discovered the tool yet, get it for free from: http://www.invid-project.eu/verify

Survey about the InVID Verification Plugin

Survey about the InVID Verification Plugin

InVID at the IEEE Workshop on Information Forensics and Security 2017

InVID at IEEE WIFS 2017

The InVID Innovation Manager, Mr. Denis Teyssou from AFP, participated at the IEEE Workshop on Information Forensics and Security (WIFS) 2017 that took place in Rennes (France) at INRIA Bretagne Atlantique, and gave a talk on the state of the art in journalism about fake image and video detection.

During his presentation, Mr. Teyssou reported on a variety of currently existing guidelines, tools and approaches for forensics analysis, and discussed about investigative journalism and post-mortem analysis of events. Following, he showcased the application of some of these tools in real-life scenarios, to better illustrate their effectiveness in evaluating the originality and trustworthiness of a media item. Finally, Mr. Teyssou presented part of the work undertaken so far in the InVID project, focusing on the developed InVID Verification Plugin (freely available at: www.invid-project.eu/verify).

The functionality of several analysis components of this tool, such as the ones for video fragmentation and reverse keyframe search, advanced Twitter search, detailed inspection of images using a digital magnifying glass, and reverse search of a flipped image, was discussed with the help of representative examples. Through his presentation, Mr. Teyssou highlighted the usefulness of the developed technology for fake news video debunking, which has already gained some very positive feedback on social media platforms, from experts of the media verification community.

The given presentation can be seen below.

The entire talk of Mr. Teyssou can be seen in the following.

The InVID plugin now with a new launch menu and extended functionalities

New release of InVID Verification Plugin

Check the new version of the InVID plugin (released on January 31st 2018) that contains a new launch menu and extended functionalities for content collection and verification. After fixing a number of bugs, and thanks to the valuable and constructive feedback from the users of the tool, we developed the next version of the InVID verification plugin, which:

  • Contains a new launch popup menu with three options (see image on the right):
    • “Open InVID” opens the user interface of the plugin in a new tab of the browser
    • “Video Urls” allows journalists to identify the video URL in the HTML code of the webpage, open it a new tab that enables the direct download of the video or use it for analysing the video through the Keyframe component of the tool (supports Instagram, Vimeo and Liveleak platforms)
    • “Images Urls” gathers all the existing images in the webpage and permits a more organised inspection of these images through the offered functionalities in the contextual menu of the InVID plugin (supports Instagram, Vimeo and Liveleak platforms)

An example of how the URL of an Instagram video can be retrieved using the newly added functionality is illustrated in the following image.

  • Supports YouTube shorteners in the entire set of integrated video analysis functionalities
  • Offers an enhanced contextual menu
  • Includes the latest version of the Metadata component, that offers a preview of the picture and supports Dropbox and Google drive URLs
  • Integrates the latest version of the Analysis component, which now supports Twitter content and provides a link to timeanddate.com for direct convertion to local time
  • Offers Tineye as an alternative reverse search engine, in all tabs where this searching process is applicable

Get the Chrome- and Firefox-compatible versions of this release, from http://www.invid-project.eu/verify and send us your feedback!

InVID at MIL meeting on social media detection and verification

InVID at MIL meeting on social media detection and verification

The InVID project and the developed technologies for newsworthy media collection and verification, were presented on a meeting focusing on tools for detection and verification of videos shared on social networks, that was co-organized by CERTH/InVID and the Media Informatics Lab of the Journalism & Mass Media Dept. of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, on Thursday 14th of December 2017.

An audience (approx. 80 people), comprised by professors, academics and students of the Journalism & Mass Media Dept, journalists and media verification experts, was initially informed about the InVID project by the project co-ordinator Dr. Vasileios Mezaris, who introduced the project’s motivation, goals, overall concept and integrated technologies for newsworthy media collection and verification.

Following, Mr. Evlampios Apostolidis from CERTH-ITI, gave a talk on fake news that rely on video reuse and the way that InVID handles such fakes. In particular, he presented the developed web application for video fragmentation and reverse keyframe search, that assists journalists to perform reverse video search at the fragment-level, and detect previously published versions of the same video online.

Then, Dr. Symeon Papadopoulos from CERTH-ITI, discussed methods for automated detection of fake posts on social media and highlighted the efficiency and functionality of an InVID tool (which was based on one of the outcomes of the Reveal EU-funded project) for contextual analysis. This tool is capable to identify and evaluate verification-related content, and provide clues about the trustworthiness of a social media item to the journalists.

Subsequently, Dr. Markos Zampoglou from CERTH-ITI, presented the developed tools for image forensic analysis. Dr. Zampoglou described, with the help of some representative examples, different types of image tampering, explained the InVID apprach to identidy many of them, and outlined the challenges of this task, the limitations of existing approaches as well as some future directions.

Finally, Mr. Denis Teyssou from AFP, joined the meeting via Google Hangouts and gave a nice presentation about the verification functionalities of the developed plugin for fake news video debunking.

Details about the event (in Greek) are available at: http://pacific.jour.auth.gr/?p=2896

The program of the event (in Greek) is available at: http://pacific.jour.auth.gr/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/program_InVid.pdf