You won't believe your eyes or you can't believe your eyes?

Toni Sekinah, research analyst and features editor, DataIQ

Recently a friend sent me a video of a young woman doing the Keke Challenge. This is a meme in which people dance along to the tune In My Feelings by Drake, usually filmed from a moving vehicle.

In the video I was sent, the woman dances in the road and is subsequently hit at full speed by a car. Screaming and commotion follows. This scenario is not outside the realms of possibility with other attempts at the meme resulting in scrapes, bumps and bruised egos.

I was horrified and immediately began searching the web for this woman’s story to find out of she was OK. Thankfully, my search revealed that the video was a fake. Snopes reported that the woman had posted the short clip to her Instagram account with the disclaimer that it had been edited by a friend, and that she was in fact in one piece.

Tweet by Toni Sekinah featuring a horse that had be digitally transformed into a zebra

It reminded me of an image I tweeted in February; a side-by-side picture of a horse and a zebra. But they were the same animal. Through the power of generative adversarial networks, zebra stripes had been superimposed on the horse which had been filmed galloping in a field. I don’t know if a GAN (generative adversarial network) was used to manipulate the video into resembling a horrific crash, but it did bring in to focus the need for greater scrutiny. People who use messaging apps and social media – probably the 44% of the global population who own a smartphone – need to carefully examine the plausibility of the information they share. Fake news, fake photos and fake videos are now easier than ever to create and disseminate.

"Look for alternative sources. Then check the details of the original source."

Here are a few tips to spot the fakes. Look for alternative sources. A real event is likely to have been published in more than one outlet. Then check the details of the original source. Stories hosted on websites that have also published far-fetched and outlandish articles might not be the real deal. And stories that are unattributed hold less weight than those with by-lines. However, these tips work mainly for fake stories. To debunk dodgy looking videos and photos, as well as stories, search it in Snopes, FactCheck. There are also ways to check if a photo has been misrepresented and shown out of context.

"In the age of post-truth, have a solid BS detector."

In a previous journalism role, my then-editor told that I had to have a solid BS detector so that wouldn’t be hoodwinked and dazzled with fairy tales and fancy words. In the age of post-truth, that is solid advice for every one of us.

 

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