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Could Microsoft Flight Simulator be your next investigative journalism tool?

Jason Norwood-Young
Jason Norwood-Young
2020-08-28

Betteridge’s Law of Headlines says No, but that doesn’t stop the experiment by Bellingcat’s Giancarlo Fiorella to try out the incredibly realistic Microsoft Flight Simulator as a potential tool to identify the location of social media posts, video and photographic evidence — something Bellingcat is notoriously good at. While the conclusion to the question on whether it could be used as a geolocation tool, the answer is “probably not”: moving the camera around is tricky when you have to also fly a plane, and the AI rendering of heights is variable. It does however allow you to fly over and see some pretty dodgy areas, such as China’s Xinjiang “re-education” camps. Fiorella also found that some areas that were purposefully pixelated in Bing’s maps were clear in the flight simulator, such as an army base in Lorient, France.

Read Fiorella’s report here…

Jason Norwood-Young
  • Journalist, developer, community builder, newsletter creator and international man of mystery.

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