App Helps Weed Out Hoax Photos and Videos

By Cameron Scott 

Chris Harvey /

Nonprofit developers have released a prototype app that helps users determine whether photos and videos are real or the work of hoaxsters.

Now, if you happen to see an eagle snatching a baby, you will be able to point more persuasively of your video of the incident.

The app, available for Android, makes the metadata encoded in photos and videos accessible to average users.

Users, including journalists, human rights researchers and others, frequently confront photos and videos that seem too amazing to be true. But are they?

The InformaCam app will help users answer the question. The app is being developed by Witness, a human rights organization, and the Guardian Project with a grand from the Knight News Challenge, which funds digital journalism.

InformaCam turns on a smartphone’s sensors when the user attempts to takes photos or videos and uses the data gathered to create a watermark that indicates the time, location, and other types of metadata.

The developers acknowledge that some clever hoaxsters will be able to outsmart the app. But it will make scams more difficult to perpetrate.