Europol: Europol sets up OSINT taskforce to support investigations into war crimes committed in Ukraine. “A new Operational Taskforce (OTF) has been set up by Europol to assist ongoing investigations into core international crimes committed in Ukraine following the invasion of the country by Russian armed forces in February 2022. This Taskforce aims to help identify suspects and their involvement in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide crimes committed in Ukraine through the collection and analysis of open source intelligence (OSINT).”
Bellingcat: A New Tool Allows Researchers to Track Damage in Gaza . “A new tool, originally developed to estimate damage in Ukraine, has now been adapted and applied to Gaza. The tool can estimate the number of damaged buildings and the pre-war population in a given area within the Gaza Strip. The tool has already been used by a number of media outlets, but it is freely available for anyone to use and we have outlined its key features below.”
Semafor: Satellite companies are restricting Gaza images. “Key providers of satellite photographs to news organizations and other researchers have begun to restrict imagery of Gaza after a New York Times report on Israeli tank positions based on the images.”
Wales Online: Burglary victim tracked down £23k stolen car using Google Earth. “Jamie began messaging the thief on Snapchat who was demanding £2,000 to return the vehicle and ‘gained their trust by being friendly to them.’ Meanwhile tech savvy Jamie helped Jayy do a reverse image search of the building the car was parked next to and managed to triangulate the location after spotting the name of a housing estate on a wheelie bin. The pair then used Google Earth to identify the exact street where the vehicle was parked before calling police.”
Northeastern Global News: Muting yourself might not be as safe as you think. This researcher found a way to get audio from still images and silent videos. “Kevin Fu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and computer science at Northeastern University, has figured out a way to get audio from pictures and even muted videos. Using Side Eye, a machine learning assisted tool that Fu and his research team created, Fu can determine the gender of someone speaking in the room where a photo was taken –– and even the exact words they spoke.”
Bellingcat: A New Tool Shows What War Has Done to Ukraine’s Forests. “We’ve launched the ‘OSINT Forest Area Tracker’, hosted on Google Earth Engine. Our tool compares data collected by Sentinel-2, a satellite which detects changes in infrared wavelengths and can be used to study the health of forests. The tool reveals the scale and intensity of anomalous changes on land. This narrows down search areas for researchers working on environmental damage in Ukraine.”
Bellingcat: Solving World War II Photo Mysteries With Open Source Techniques. “…the ‘Finding the location WW1 & WW2’ Facebook group seeks to employ geolocation techniques to identify where unknown and undated images from the first and second World Wars were taken. Recently, Bellingcat was able to uncover new information about a series of photos from the International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) archives that were posted to this Facebook group. The techniques used to locate the photos are easily transferable to other scenarios.”
Billboard: TikTok Sleuth Appears to Find Jim Crow Era News Story in Jason Aldean’s ‘Try That in a Small Town’ Teaser. “In a TikTok posted on Saturday (July 22), former minor league baseball player Danny Collins did a deep dive on one of Aldean’s promotional TikToks for his controversial song released back in May. Zooming in on a newspaper article in the background of one of the video’s shots, Collins found that it appears to be a piece pulled from a since-discontinued small newspaper from Mississippi.”
Mother Jones: How I Got “Crime-Pilled” by a Bunch of Very-Online Web Sleuths. “…internet sleuths searching and gossiping about a ghost killer in Austin is the latest in a series of internet-fueled crime dramas that have played out across the country. Just recently for The Atlantic, McKay Coppins covered the town of Moscow, Idaho, a community left in paranoia and fear after social media detectives flocked to the area to ‘help’ search for a killer (spoiler alert: It made things worse).”
The Verge: Telegram has become a window into war. “The messaging app has become a key channel for news about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. But the government’s relationship with it is complicated.”
I’ve made v2 of Gossip Machine and it’s about 1000% better!
I made the first version of Gossip Machine last summer. It uses Wikipedia pageview data to find days when Wikipedia articles got especially busy traffic. Those dates are then turned into single-day Google searches.
This version analyzes only a month of page views at a time. For each day it generates a z-score. Z-scores above 1 are filtered and presented in order of Z-score, with a red bar indicating how busy the page was compared to the mean for the month.
As with all the Gizmos, it’s free and there are no ads except for a Patreon banner.
I’ve created a list of most available Gizmos at https://searchgizmos.com/biglist/ . There are 45 Gizmos listed with categories including Wikipedia, Google Web search, Google News search, and location-based search tools.
Everything’s free and there are no ads, but it probably won’t work on your phone.
Business Insider: The college student who tracks Elon Musk’s private jet on Twitter is now monitoring the jet used by Ron DeSantis. “The college student who tracks Elon Musk’s private jet on Twitter has decided to give Florida governor Ron DeSantis the same treatment.”
Kyiv Independent: Investigative Stories from Ukraine: Journalists map military facilities in Russian-occupied Crimea . “Crimea.Realities, a project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, launched an interactive map showing 233 active and frozen military facilities in Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula occupied by Russia since 2014. They include military airfields, naval bases, docks, arsenals, supply warehouses, military towns, military units, rotations of air defense locations, training grounds, and military-industrial enterprises.”
Global Investigative Journalism Network: 4 More Essential Tips for Using the Wayback Machine . “The previous edition of Digital Investigations offered advice for getting the most out of the Wayback Machine. Now I’m back with even more tips, thanks to an interview with Mark Graham, director of the Wayback Machine. He pointed to a few features I forgot to mention along with one I wasn’t aware of.”