February 2017

Making sure things are what they appear

Mikkel Westphal Stephensen
Co-founder

When the CIA gets an intel they always want eyes and ears on the ground to verify. I got that info from the show “Homeland”, so it’s not a verified source. Journalists want the same. The more eyes and ears on the ground the better. And this comes from a verified source. Actually from several verified sources.

But in the age of fake news and in the age of social media it’s hard to tell who speaks the truth.

We have trust issues

People don’t trust the media. Only one third of Americans trust the news. In Denmark where we're from and in a lot of other countries, journalists are one of the least trusted groups except used car salesmen and politicians. So it’s safe to say we’ve got trust issues.

How do we fix that?

Unfortunately, we can't just wave our magic wand and fix the trust issues. What we can do is focus on transperency.

Okay, time for an example. Say some guy is looking for a photo he can use of the Eiffel Tower. He's never been to Paris. So when he finally finds the photo he's been searching for, he buys it and thinks to himself "Magnifique, très bien".
But it's not Magnifique nor is it très bien. It's "Vegas, baby!". That poor guy, who didn't do his research very well wounded up with a photo of the Las Vegas-version.

If that beautiful shot of the "Eiffel Tower" was captured through Byrd we wouldn't have that problem. The guy, who's now been fired from the travel site he worked for by the way, would have seen it immediatly.

When somebody takes a photo or a video through Byrd we take note of the time and location. That's how we make sure there are no misleading information or misunderstandings. That's how we can help news media not to display irrelevant content as documentation. This actually happens once in a while, like during the Brussels bombings in March 2016, where media aired a video surveilance clip that later turned out to show an attack in Moscow in 2011.

Community contribution

Byrd is made to ensure perspective and understanding. It can't be done without a strong community who contributes and participates. The people, the photographers, are crucial in discovering the good, the bad and the ugly stories. By building a community for people who enjoy providing tips, taking great photos and videos and selling them too, journalists all over have all the ingredients and remedies necessary to report news. With a strong community, observant photographers and engaging media representatives, user generated content will bring new stories to life.

The roundup

The more eyes and ears on the ground we can get, the more perspective comes along. Truth is not just war and dispair, it’s not just kittens and Chewbacca masks either. But none of them are false, and there should be room for all truths and perspectives - as long as they are what they claim to be.


Alright, that's it for now. Thanks for reading. If you have any comments or questions, send me an email or find us on Facebook and on Twitter.