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The App That Builds Trust Into Citizen Media

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, December 12 2013

What did I tell you about not believing everything you see on the Internet? (Flickr/@Doug88888)

Don't trust everything you find on the Internet.

That's a lesson that has been rehashed here in the states recently after several fictitious or embellished stories went viral and were shared on news sites as, well, news. The thing is, it's not the end of the world that a letter to Santa with an Amazon URL painstakingly written out in Crayon turns out to be the work of a Brooklyn comedy writer. But when citizens with smartphones begin documenting revolutions, protests, or crimes, media outlets and human rights organizations need to know that the material is the real deal. That's where InformaCam comes in.

InformaCam is a tool that citizens can use to add metadata to their media which can then be verified to determine the who, what, when and where. The global human rights group Witness and partner organization the Guardian Project developed the tool with funding from the Knight Foundation. Yesterday, in an informal Google Hangout broadcast live on YouTube, representatives of both Witness and the Guardian Project gave a preview of the beta version of the InformaCam app.

The metadata InformaCam gathers is incredibly specific, from the obvious data like GPS location to the more obscure (the barometric pressure at time of filming?), all of which can be used to prove that the media shows what it claims it shows. This is important because, as Nathan Freitas of the Guardian Project points out, we don't want to live in a world where we only trust police footage, security cameras or drones.

The flip side of the app is the ability to share media stripped of metadata on social media to remove any potentially compromising information.

The beta version of the app—which is still a bit buggy, the developers warn—is available for download on Android.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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