TechRaking Boston: Verifying the News

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September 17, 2015 by newsgetting

Making sure what you see is what really happened


TechRaking Boston was a conference about verifying imagery. The one-day conference at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA, drew together about 50 technologists and journalists from around the country and Europe interested in this a fast-growing field. This was the first conference devoted wholly to the topic, and we hope it becomes an annual event.

The surge in interest is driven by the sheer number of newsworthy images — both video and pictures— that are uploaded every day on a number of social media sites. While the vast majority of the millions of videos and pictures show exactly what they purport to show, some have been manipulated or misrepresented.

Verifying images is a huge problem for news organizations, which stake their reputations on the accuracy of their content. Fraudulent imagery is a nightmare for everyone. Readers are deceived and irate when they find out they have been fooled; governments and institutions can make bad decisions based on deceptive imagery; journalists are furious about displaying and writing about bad information.

Bad images can range from the eagle that snatched the baby in the park to changing the insignia on the plane in the Ukraine that was hot down.

The goal of the conference was to help people learn more about detecting the frauds and verifying what’s true. To that end, we brought together some of the top experts in the fields to talk about new emerging trends.

We held talks, a panel discussion, lightning talks, and held a mini-hackathon to prototype ideas for fighting the problem. It was chance for people to get together for a day to talk about what they have discovered and where the field is headed.

As we say on the web page, “we will highlight use cases, share information, discuss technology and look for ways to create more widespread adoption of visual verification in newsrooms.”

A tremendous list of people and companies active in this field attended, including Andy Carvin from, Claire Wardle, Tow Center for Digital Journalism, Jen LaFleur from the Center for Investigative Reporting, and Hany Farid, a computer science professor and expert on photo manipulation from Dartmouth College.

Great list of sponsors as well: CIR, Google News Lab, Future of News at the MIT Media Lab, First Draft, the Knight Foundation, and Bloomberg.


By Matt Carroll (Medium)


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