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We Are Bellingcat: Global Crime, Online Sleuths, and the Bold Future of News

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  2,948 ratings  ·  342 reviews
The page-turning inside account of the organization solving international mysteries and wielding the power of the internet to fight for facts.
In 2018, Russian exile Sergei Skripal and his daughter were nearly killed in an audacious poisoning attempt in Salisbury, England. Soon, the identity of one of the suspects was revealed: he was a Russian spy. This huge investigative
...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 2nd 2021 by Bloomsbury Publishing
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George Siehl Kim,
I just finished the Bellingcat book and found it a most interesting read. Higgins makes little to no mention of cooperation with western governme…more
Kim,
I just finished the Bellingcat book and found it a most interesting read. Higgins makes little to no mention of cooperation with western governments, although he does note that the Netherlands provided funds to run training camps for students interested in the process. He also cites a number of cooperative efforts with non-governmental groups, universities, media groups and law enforcement. My reading of his attitude toward governments is that he is pretty standoffish. This may be to retain the image of a source independent of national governments.

In his closing chapter he writes of developing new algorithms that would help identify "high value" individuals and "monitor military forces suspected of wrongdoing." He adds, however, "One complication is that such a tool would be desirable to every government intelligence agency in the world. For us, the major question becomes this: once we develop such tools, do we want to publicize them?" As I say, I think that reflects a standoffish attitude.

He does mention some of the staff the group has been able to hire since they are getting funding from big tech corporations. He names a few names, including one who had prior government intel work, but Colqhoun is not mentioned.

Hope that helps answer your question. In my review I mention the book that first alerted me to Bellingcat, P. W. Singer's Like War: the weaponization of social media. It takes a look at broader aspects of the issue, but does provide some detail on the identification of the culprit in shooting down the Malaysian airliner over Ukraine.

If you have been reading in this field, I would appreciate any suggestions you might have on other titles.

Sincerely,

George Siehl(less)

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Paromjit
Dec 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have to admit that whilst I was aware of Bellingcat, my knowledge of it was sketchy at best. This is a detailed history of Bellingcat and its founder, Eliot Higgins, aka blogger Brown Moses, named after a Frank Zappa song. Higgins outlines his background, becoming obsessed with the Arab Spring and the Libyan Civil War, whilst working as a admin worker in Leicester, using his laptop to scour for information on the internet to add small details on twitter, and other sites, such as the comments s ...more
David Wineberg
Bellingcat is a lovely invented word that perfectly describes a new discipline- tracking down the hidden truth and lassoing the culprits - the powerful - using open source data. In We Are Bellingcat, founder Eliot Higgins tells the remarkable and always fascinating – when not totally gripping – story of how it came to be, how it found itself front and center on the world stage, and how it achieved its numerous, significant accomplishments. It’s an exciting book, because all of their campaigns wi ...more
Lou (nonfiction fiend)
Feb 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
We Are Bellingcat is the page-turning inside account of the organization solving international mysteries and wielding the power of the internet to fight for facts. In 2018, Russian exile Sergei Skripal and his daughter were nearly killed in an audacious poisoning attempt in Salisbury, England. Soon, the identity of one of the suspects was revealed: he was a Russian spy. This huge investigative coup wasn't pulled off by an intelligence agency or a traditional news outlet. Instead, the scoop came ...more
Sebastian Gebski
Mar 17, 2022 rated it it was amazing
True gem.

It's a book about the importance of OSINT in understanding the modern world and revealing: lies, false propaganda, fake news. It doesn't go through the details of OSINT work (well, some practices are being mentioned, but it's not the most important thing here), but makes the reader understand why orgs like Bellingcat are important, what they do, and what they have already achieved.

Truth (as a greater value) is one of my favorite topics. Some say that objective truth is already dead, but
...more
Gem ~ZeroShelfControl~
I received this book from NetGalley and the publisher, in return for an honest review. This review is based entirely on my own thoughts and feelings.

My brother always used to share super dubious news articles on Facebook. I always used to say do you actually know that that’s true? Have you even read the article? 9/10 times he hadn’t and yes it was nonsense or a news story reused from years before.
I’m sure we’ve all seen the footage this week from the US. And maybe you’ve seen the video of the w
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Maria Lyle
Apr 26, 2021 rated it liked it
Whilst some of this book was very interested and I whole heartedly support Bellingcat’s aims, I found the long chapters giving a blow by blow account of exactly how they uncovered each bit of evidence too dense. A laudable organisation, and great work by a dedicated team - but I think someone writing this with slightly more distance from the organisation might have improved this as a book.
Kat ❅
Apr 19, 2022 rated it really liked it
Definitely some interesting stuff here. I think I was somewhat aware of the reporting from Bellingcat in previous years but I was interested in picking up this book now after seeing some of their work on documenting war crimes in Ukraine.

The writing in this book isn't amazing but it gets the job done. It's pretty journalistic in its style so I won't really fault it too much for that. A lot of this is a pretty in-depth examination of the process for finding information using open source investig
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Muhammad Ahmad
It’s more gripping than a detective novel. Except the crimes are real, the sleuths are smarter, and the stakes are higher. I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
Ricardo Sousa
Jul 09, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: russia
6/10

3 stars for the book
5 stars for Bellingcat (for what it represents and what it has already accomplished, with much more to come)
Soumya Tejam
May 20, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
In We Are Bellingcat: Global Crime, Online Sleuths, and the Bold Future of News, founder Eliot Higgins tells the remarkable and always fascinating—when not totally gripping—story of how it came to be, how it found itself front and center on the world stage, and how it achieved its numerous, significant accomplishments. In this era of ever more sophisticated fabrications, Bellingcat, both the service and the book, are most worthy of readers’ attention. This, for once, is an optimistic vision of t ...more
Shelly
Feb 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reads like a spy novel yet it’s not a spy novel; it’s real life.

First things first, this is a great read, it is easy to understand and does not attempt to be an academic textbook for those who wish to learn how to do what Bellingcat does.

I had heard of Bellingcat, like many people when they published their investigation into the Skripel poisoning. At the time I remember thinking “wow, look at this, an independent organisation has published evidence that could lead to justice being done”. I was n
...more
Sarah
I disliked reading this so much. Partially because it has little to do with the class I have to read it for and partially because it feels like a massive ego trip at times.
Ann
Sep 14, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Wow! Wow! So many emotions. I'd read a chapter and wish I was young and could help investigate these crimes. I would feel so hopeful for our future. Then I would read a chapter and just feel angry, depressed and fear for the future. But mostly I just feel incredibly impressed and proud of Eliot and his team.

The Bellingcats are amazing. They are digital detectives using open source data to solve crimes all over the world. I remember so many crimes they solved that hit the national news once
...more
Bettie
Aug 03, 2020 marked it as wish-list

Having come across ah but a couple of articles by this outfit, I'm up for learning about them.
Those articles?
-Effingham Junction grade of terrifying!!
...more
RH Michetti
May 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting story but even more, it is important to understand how digital sleuthing is done on an international collaborative basis, how these investigative workers exposes nefarious government operatives (mostly Russian) and it helped me a gain a better understanding of “Qnon”.
Lynn
Aug 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Great account on how Bellingcat, an organization of researchers and journalists confirm and document atrocities and human rights abuses.
James Grimditch
Jul 15, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t expect much from this book. I heard the author being interviewed on the radio and saw that the guardian bookshop were selling it, so I bought it out of a vague sense of duty towards the author’s work and a desire to give the guardian as much money as humanly possible because all other British newspapers should be driven into the sea.

Anyway it looked like the kind of book adults read, so I put down my copy of the latest Skulduggery Pleasant book (very underwhelmi
...more
Isis
Nov 27, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
This book really highlights the work of Bellingcat, which, over the last couple of years, has proven to be highly important in the criminal justice system, but also generally, in exposing the lies of authoritarian regimes. With some experience of my own, with working at organisations that apply the same working methods as Bellingcat, it was really interesting to see where Bellingcat came from, and how it paved the way for other organisations and civilians to participate more actively in society ...more
Daina
Jul 21, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2022
A must read for anyone concerned about the war of disinformation raging online. An incredible insight into some of the initiatives aiming to combat counter factual communities, state-sponsored trolling, and other nefarious online interference, ending with hope and optimism for a somewhat better online future - a great read.
Humaira
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting take on online sleuthing and citizen journalism.

This book is incredibly detailed and not so much a how-to but rather a history of how the organisation started and how they uncovered some huge misinformation including the Malaysian flight that was shot down and the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in Salisbury.

The book talks about how the organisation started with Eliot Higgins as an amateur sleuth to the organisation in its present form.

I found it really interesting and d
...more
Martin Brezina
Jan 30, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I always had a soft spot for Bellingcat. Also, now I now why are they called that.
Keyton
May 09, 2021 rated it really liked it
Not quite journalists and not quite an intelligence agency, but definitely a player in online investigations. This is an interesting backstory to growing open-source crowd-sourced efforts to understand and expose nefarious actors. It's yet another seriously unanticipated effect of our always-on internet and social-media world.

I'd quibble with his idea that they're able to do so much more than intelligence agencies: agencies intentionally keep their successes private, are judged by their failure
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Yvette
Apr 16, 2022 rated it really liked it
Desinformation, fabrication, deception, propaganda- concepts normally associated with the Cold War, Soviet era. Higgins with this book seeks to reinvent reporting for the internet age and remind us that spying is no longer the preserve of nation states and now more than ever the balance between open and secret intelligence is shifting and we can all be part of it.

What I like about Eliot the most is his moral compass. In his view, facts still matter, accountability is possible, and people still c
...more
Kate Vane
Feb 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
We Are Bellingcat is a fascinating account of the history of investigative news site Bellingcat and how they pioneered using open-source intelligence (OSINT) to uncover the truth about crime and conflict.

Higgins explains his research began as a hobby when he decided to put his time spent online and his attention to detail to use. He began gathering evidence about the war in Syria, realising that there was plenty of publicly available information.

He found ways to verify or debunk claims made on s
...more
Glen Robinson
Mar 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Bellingcat is in direct response to the challenge of fake news and disinformation that starts with Russia and extends to anyone who wants you to believe their way and doesn’t want you to see for yourself what the facts are. Bellingcat is an organization based (now) out of The Netherlands and staffed by 30 full-time researchers with hundreds of volunteers around the world. The sole intent is to research open source information on the Internet regarding news events. Most of them are not news peopl ...more
Elite Group
Apr 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
Remarkably interesting description of independent internet fact-finding
We are Bellingcat relates the history of how a group of dedicated amateurs grew into a well-respected organisation of enthusiasts who trawl the internet seeking facts that are everywhere but take time and effort to uncover.

Eliot Higgins was a one-man band who tried to establish the facts behind disasters and the lies of governments. He starts by trying to determine where photographs posted online was taken using shop signs
...more
Jed  Russell
Jun 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
We are bellingcat - an intelligence agency for the people. This book is so appropriately titled. Bellingcat taken from the fable “belling the cat” which tells a story of three mice who attempt an impossibly difficult task that if achieved, will benefit them all.
Eliot Higgins pioneers the field Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). Eliot than proves to the world how valuable OSINT can be. With countless hours of sleuthing Eliot and his online team at bellingcat manage to prove who was responsible fo
...more
Sami Eerola
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2021
Excellent autobiography of the organization of investigative journalists of Bellingcat. The book is full of detailed information on the rise of the organization and its methods.

The best thing after the description of how the organization came to conclusion in its most famous cases, is the description of the fight between Bellingcat and the "contrafactual media" (conspiracy theorists and extreme anti-Western-imperialists aka redbrown activists). The author shows clearly how wrong the later about
...more
Nancy
Jun 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Bellingcat is responsible for open-source investigations of extremely sensitive issues, from war crimes such as chemical weapon attacks in Syria, to a civilian airliner shot down over the Ukraine, to the Skripal poisoning in the UK and many others. Open-source investigations involve combing through social media, such as You-Tube, Instagram, Twitter, and online databases such as GoogleEarth, resources available to the average person with a computer or smartphone.

The author, who founded Bellingca
...more
Sophy H
Oct 09, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well this was a funny old tale!

I knew nothing of Bellingcat until this book and what a strange yet effective collection of people they are.

The book is highly informative and very interesting, though admittedly there are some sections that get a little overly bogged down in minutiae, and Eliot runs the risk of conflated self-congratulation once or twice. These things aside however, it just shows how a group of "ordinary people" can take on the might of governments, politicians, gangsters, and s
...more
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“When a Newsweek journalist proposed an article on the OPCW scandal, his editors declined, pointing him to a Bellingcat piece debunking the matter. The reporter, who quit the magazine, then failed to bolster his credibility by telling his tale to that bastion of reliable newsgathering, RT.” 1 likes
“We have no agenda but we do have a credo: evidence exists and falsehoods exist, and people still care about the difference.” 0 likes
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