Human Rights Investigations Lab

Human Rights Investigations Lab: 
Where Facts Matter

Fighting human rights violations through social media

About the Lab

In Fall 2016, UC Berkeley’s Human Rights Center launched the first university-based open source investigations lab to discover and verify human rights violations and potential war crimes. Today, more than 80 students from 22 majors and minors who collectively speak more than 30 languages are working in eight teams to contribute verified information to international NGOs, news organizations, and legal partners. Our #HRCLab is training the next generation of students how to find, verify, and analyze information found on social media—photos, videos, and posts—about some of the most pressing human rights challenges of our times. We’re working with partners to investigate potential crimes in Syria, Iraq, Myanmar and elsewhere around the globe. In 2018-2109, the students conducted 39 investigations with 25 partners globally.

Lab Impact

The Human Rights Investigations Lab contributes open source research and verification to Amnesty International and other partners for public reports that are released internationally to impact human rights. Here are links to samples of how students have made contributions: 

Translate and collect evidence for Reuters' Pulitzer-winning series on Myanmar

Reuters' Steve Stecklow has won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the weaponization of Facebook in the alleged genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar. He is part of a Reuters team (including two journalists who are still jailed in Myanmar) who won the prize for their extraordinary reporting on this crisis. Our Investigations Lab student team contributed to the groundbreaking story by helping to translate and collect more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments, images, and videos attacking the Rohingya or other Myanmar Muslims.

Provide open source verification for groundbreaking Sudan report

Sudan's attacks on peaceful protesters and hospitals are documented by Physicians for Human Rights medical expert and Research Fellow Rohini Haar with open source verification support from our #HRCLab's Michael Elsanadi, Haley Willis, Lily Greenberg Call, and Flim Flam.