How to verify the exact upload time of social media videos and images?

In open source intelligence investigations, confirming the accurate upload time of content on social media platforms can help open source intelligence investigators understand the timeline of the development of events, determine the authenticity of the information, and provide valuable clues for investigation and analysis. In this article, we will briefly introduce the international common time format and the methods used by mainstream social media platforms to verify the posting time.

Explanation of Terms


Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) is a standardized time used globally, based on the precision timing of atomic clocks and independent of time zones. UTC time is the same everywhere in the world and is therefore widely used as a benchmark for time standardization and coordination between different countries and regions.

ISO 8601

ISO 8601 is a format standard for representing dates and times developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to eliminate confusion caused by the use of different time formats in different countries and regions.

Ways to verify the time of content uploads on social media platforms

1. Twitter

Twitter has a simpler method of time verification. Tap into the details page of a particular post on Twitter to see the exact time the post was published. Note that the time displayed in the tweet may vary depending on the user's time zone.

To get a handle on the UTC time when a post was uploaded, you can enter developer mode by right-clicking on the page and selecting "Inspect" (or the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+I), then clicking "Select Elements" (or the shortcut Ctrl (or use the shortcut Ctrl+Shift+C), then hover over the element you want to check.

As shown above, "2023-08-16T15:14:50.000Z" is the UTC time when the post was uploaded. This is the ISO 8601 time format for use in computer systems and data exchange.

In this example:

"2023-08-16" denotes the date in year-month-day format.

"T" indicates a date and time separator to distinguish the date from the time.

"15:14:50.000" Indicates the time in the format of "hour: minute: second. milliseconds".

"Z" stands for "Zulu Time", which is UTC time.

Therefore, "2023-08-16T15:14:50.000Z" represents 3:14:50pm on August 16, 2023 and is based on UTC.

2. Instagram

Unlike Twitter, when you hover over the date of an Instagram post, you can see the exact date the post was published, but not the exact time.

However, you can see it after entering developer mode using the same method as Twitter.

3. Youtube

Youtube also doesn't show the exact time the video was uploaded on the details page, but you can view information about the video by installing the Google Chrome plugin InVID.

Copy the address of the video to the search bar and click submit to see it.