The Veracity of Video

Fake Sandy photos are a dime a dozen, but video footage is tougher to manipulate, and therefore more reliable.

scubadiver_615-thumb-615x345-103538.jpg

Yesterday in the hours leading up to the worst of the storm there was an epidemic of faked, old, or otherwise misleading photos streaming across Twitter and Facebook, which Alexis Madrigal documented and fact-checked the heck out of. Today it seems that the flood of fakes is receding, replaced by a flood of real ones, but the episode stands as a reminder that photographs are not a particularly reliable form of documentation. With just the basic software, many people can produce a pretty good fake.

Video, on the other hand, is tougher. Obviously, there's an entire major industry premised on making fake videos, but doing so requires far more skill, software, and time. Before the storm, when fake Sandy photos were a dime a dozen, faked videos were scarce. (Of course, like photos, videos can easily be from another time and their provenance can be extremely hard to track down, and staged false videos abound online. But turning around a manipulated or outright fabricated video within just a few minutes or hours of a major event is a tall order, much taller than doing so for a picture.) In an age of Photoshop, the moving image -- from its invention a tool for storytelling and dramatization -- becomes a more reliable source, the result of its inherent complexity, at least as measured by the ease with which it can be edited. 

And yet, they defy belief, such as this video of a building's facade just falling away:

Presented by

Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

The Blacksmith: A Short Film About Art Forged From Metal

"I'm exploiting the maximum of what you can ask a piece of metal to do."

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Riding Unicycles in a Cave

"If you fall down and break your leg, there's no way out."

Video

Carrot: A Pitch-Perfect Satire of Tech

"It's not just a vegetable. It's what a vegetable should be."

Video

An Ingenious 360-Degree Time-Lapse

Watch the world become a cartoonishly small playground

Video

The Benefits of Living Alone on a Mountain

"You really have to love solitary time by yourself."

Video

The Rise of the Cat Tattoo

How a Brooklyn tattoo artist popularized the "cattoo"

More in Technology

Just In