Proof of alien life, a prank or a digitally altered hoax? Brittney Deguara takes a look at a viral clip and the dangers of deep fakes.
An alien? An elf?! What is that thing in the driveway?
A video posted to Facebook by US woman Vivian Gomez showed a mysterious looking "thing" walking next to her home.
Dozens of media outlets around the world "reported" on the potential supernatural sighting. But as always in these cases the clip is rather questionable.
Technological advancements have resulted in a wave of digitally altered images and videos circulating online. Could this be another hoax attempting - and apparently succeeding in - fooling innocent viewers?
If so, what is a realistic explanation of this "creepy" clip and how could it be faked?
Gomez originally shared the video, claiming she wanted opinions on what she saw on home security camera footage.
"So I woke up Sunday morning and saw this on my camera and am trying to figure out... what the heck??
"First I saw the shadow walking from my front door then I saw this thing... has anyone else seen this on their cameras?
"The other two cameras didn't pick it up for some reason," she wrote.
The internet had a lot of ideas about the video's origins.
"Aliens have landed," one person commented.
Some likened the appearance of the creature to that of the fictional Harry Potter character Dobby.
Let's be realistic: it's rather unlikely this video shows evidence of aliens or elves.
Thankfully, some viewers settled on a more logical answer: a kid playing a prank.
"If [you] look at it really close when video is large it looks like a kid in flip flops and underwear. When he gets to the driveway it looks like he has underwear and shorts or something on its head," one user commented.
"Does your son sleep walk?" another asked.
Amazingly, the clip has 7.9 million views. It's also proved quite divisive, with some questioning the morality of Gomez and the clip.
When questioned, Gomez replied: "How can I fake that? I'm not that tech savvy unfortunately."
She also replied to another commenter calling it a "gag video" saying: "This wasn't altered or photoshopped and no trick photography."
But yes, the clip could also just be a digitally altered hoax.
Thanks to the advanced technology readily available to anyone with an internet connection, this wouldn't be the first time people have been fooled by an extra-terrestrial themed hoax.
A 1995 clip of an 'alien autopsy' was one of the most convincing hoaxes in the world.
The Roswell Autopsy Footage - a 17-minute black and white film - claimed to provide proof of aliens existing on Earth after a 1947 'UFO' crash in Roswell, New Mexico.
However, in 2017, the filmmaker behind the clip, ex-magician Spyros Melaris admitted it was counterfeit.
Since its introduction, social media has allowed the easy spread of counterfeits.
In 2013, late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel was behind the clip of the 'worst twerk fail ever'. Hundreds of news outlets showed the clip of the woman twerking against a door before it opens, sending her crashing into a table of candles and being set alight.
Recently, the Momo social media challenge - targeting children with a "suicide game" - was found to be a hoax by "bullies and pranksters", according to internet fact-checking source Snopes.
How are these videos created?
These videos aren't all fun and games though. Deepfakes are quite concerning and allow the use existing audio and video to create high-quality representations of things that never happened.
A report conducted by Curtis Barnes and Tom Barraclough - backed by The Law Foundation - explained: deepfakes are being commercialised, but many Kiwis are yet to encounter them.
"Few New Zealanders are likely to be aware that at present, from around five to ten minutes of video or twenty to thirty minutes of audio, a skilled person using consumer-level computing technology could create relatively realistic representations of the Prime Minister engaged in entirely untrue behaviour, or saying totally fabricated things."
This type of technology has been used to create fake pornographic videos to harass and humiliate people, especially women.
Barnes and Barraclough explained these types of fakes can be created using just a smartphone.
"Moreover, the capacities of these technologies are rapidly improving. Common applications like Snapchat filters, augmented reality, and so-called "face swapping" allow everyday people to create and share more and better manipulated audiovisual information: information that makes it look or sound like something happened when it did not," the report said.
Computer scientist Supasorn Suwajanakorn held a Ted Talk in 2018 detailing how still photos of celebrities can be transformed to create counterfeit videos.
He created four different clips of former US president Barack Obama using still photos found on Google.
"I let a computer watch 14 hours of pure Barack Obama giving addresses," he told the crowd.
His technology then synthesised the former president's mouth and facial details to create realistic yet "frightening" models.
Suwajanakorn is working with the AI Foundation to create a web browser plug in to help identify fake images and videos.
Titled Reality Defender, it "scans every image, video and other media that a user encounters for known fakes, allows reporting of suspected fakes, and runs new media through various AI-driven analysis techniques to detect signs of alteration or artificial generation.
But this plug in isn't yet publicly available, so how can you spot a fake video or image?
Identifying fake videos
There are a number of apps and website readily available to help identify fake assets.
Counterfeit images are easily identifiable through their metadata. Applications such as Serelay, Foto Forensic and Google Reverse Image Search all work to promote the details behind the image.
However, identifying the origins of a video posted to a user's Facebook page isn't as easy.
InVID Verification Plugin is a tool that allows users to upload an image, YouTube video URL, or link to a post on a public Facebook page to see its metadata - location, date of creation, thumbnail.
Unfortunately, InVid Verification Plugin was unable to gather information for the video in question.
Snopes also works to identify misleading and false videos, photos and stories currently circulating online.
They use a broad spectrum of ratings - true, mostly true, mixture, mostly false, false, unproven, scam, outdated - to "be precise, accurate and fair," as stated on their website.