Using browser extensions to uncover disinformation

InVID

The InVID toolkit, originally developed with financial support from the EU, claims to be a source checking Swiss army knife for journalists and political activists [7]. InVID, which is provided under a free MIT license, bills itself as "… a platform providing services to detect, authenticate, and check the reliability and accuracy of newsworthy video files and video content spread via social media." You can use InVID as a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, and their derivatives. The tool analyzes images and video files, from which it also extracts the metadata if desired.

For videos found on Twitter and YouTube, InVID displays the licenses associated with the video. For image searches, the app also breaks down YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter videos, and even MP4 files, into their individual keyframes, so that search engines such as TinEye can check the authenticity of the data.

After installation, you will find a button for InVID in the toolbar. Clicking on the button opens a small menu where you can select the desired function. Depending on the browser, the menus will use different designs. Use the Open Toolbox option to open the main menu in Chrome, or use Open InVID in Firefox (Figure 5).

Figure 5: The InVID toolkit's interface differs depending on the browser. Firefox is on the left, and Chrome is on the right.

To analyze a YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter video, choose the Analysis button in the selection menu. In the subsequent Video contextual verification window, enter the URL of the video you want to verify, and then click Submit. After a short while, the browser will display the retrieved data in a table. The report includes the title of the movie and a summary of its contents, followed by some important statistics like the number of views, the duration, and the time of the upload. The steps are slightly different but similar in Chrome and its derivatives.

WeVerify

WeVerify, an open source platform, provides the following methods and tools to address online disinformation [8]:

  • Cross-modal disinformation detection and content verification tools
  • Blockchain-based database of "known fakes"
  • An open source content verification browser plugin
  • A collaborative cross-media verification workbench
  • Citizen-oriented verification chatbot
  • Tools for sourcing and tracking disinformation flows

WeVerify offers forensic analysis of images (Figure 6). In Chrome-based browsers, click on Images and then select the Forensics option. Type the URL of the image you wish to check. WeVerify checks the image for inconsistencies and presents the results with links to explanations. In the lower third of the window, you will find metadata that will help you draw conclusions about fakes.

Figure 6: The WeVerify toolkit also performs forensic analysis on images.

WeVerify also includes an option that lets you magnify an image published on the Internet, because sometimes magnifying the image can be enough to expose a fake.

YouTube Metadata

The free YouTube Metadata [9] online service extracts metadata from YouTube videos and displays the results in a web browser. Enter the video's cached URL in the field provided on the main page, and then click Submit. After a short time, the analysis results appear below the input line. The results contain various statistics about the analyzed video to let you determine the upload time, which will help you determine the age of the clip.

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