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by Graham Cookson
on 06 August 2014

Bloggers uncover MH17 info faster than US government

If there’s ever a need to prove that all the big data floating around on the Internet is useful, a group of ‘citizen journalists’ have managed to do just that, by apparently uncovering more useful information than the US government has managed to, just by using their intuition and the Internet.

The case of the MH17 flight is not one to be taken lightly, as the plane, carrying online civilian passengers, was accidentally shot down over Ukrainian airspace, in an area that has seen fighting between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces for the last couple of months.

And, because of the controversy, no one wanted to acknowledge who is to blame for the tragedy. But it seems that group of citizen journalists, led by a man known as “Brown Moses” has managed to uncover more information surrounding the incident than anyone else.

Using open source tools, social media and video sites, such as YouTube, Brown Moses and his companions have managed to find evidence to suggest that the missile was fired by pro-Russian fighters.

The evidence shown seems to pinpoint the location a BUK launcher (the missile that is suspected to have been used to shoot down MH17) in the area at the time of the shooting. (See image top, right)

By all accounts, the group managed to narrow it down to its exact location and the time of day the launcher was at the location, just with the help of Twitter followers and a photograph (see image, left)

Evidence went on to suggest that the same launcher seen in the aforementioned photo was later seen being transported from the Ukraine to Russia, via rebel-held settlements, with a missile missing from its usual placement (see video link, below).

However, Brown Moses does go on to say himself that none of the evidence gathered can or should be used to confirm that the Russians or pro-Russian separatists did fire the missile that brought down MH17. But it does show that pro-Russian fighters have been in possession of the supposed weapon used, around the time the flight was downed.

It also goes to show that with all the information circulating around the Internet, it can be organised in such a way that it makes sense and can be used to piece together parts of a puzzle, such as the MH17 incident.

What Brown Moses and other people like him have achieved here is a similar process to what big data companies can accomplish, but with Brown Moses’ style of investigation, it takes a lot of time and effort and, while there has been success here and in the past, it can ultimately lead to nothing.

The tools used by big data companies can perform the searches in a fraction of the time and can be used to constantly monitor the ‘Internet chatter’ around global events such as this - meaning that as soon as someone has some evidence or a clue relating the event, the end-user can be alerted to the situation.

If you would like to download this white paper, 'The data is out there: Bloggers uncover MH17 info faster than the US government', please click here for the PDF version.

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[Source: Mashable | Brown Moses]

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