Knowing where to look: Using visual clues to verify breaking news

A hostage situation in Trèbes, France on March 23 demonstrated how some simple techniques can add valuable information and speed to the verification process.

This blog focuses on the ‘what to look for’ and ‘where to look’ elements of verifying visual content in a breaking news situation.

RT Digital was notified by an alert on the newswires which stated that a hostage situation was occuring in a “supermarket in south western France.” No further details were given on the location at the time.

Searching our curated Twitter lists comprising reliable sources, journalists and media on the ground in France, we quickly discovered the exact location to be a Super U supermarket in Trèbes.

A search on Facebook using the keyword “Trèbes” discovered the below video.

The video does not show a supermarket — a police cordon pushed onlookers away from the scene.

From Google Map we can see that a railroad runs south of the Super U, allowing us to disregard this area. On the northern side of the supermarket a road matching the dimensions of that seen in the video is visible.

The area towards the roundabout to the east is lined with trees, something not seen in the video. This allows us to disregard this area and instead concentrate on the road running northwest of the supermarket.

Looking at this area on Google Street View we see the below elements, also visible in the video.

Using this technique we geolocated this footage within seconds of finding it on Facebook. This very simple technique confirmed the exact location of filming was here.

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