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On March 19, 2016, Flydubai Flight 981 crashed in Russia.

It is reported (for example on English Wikipedia and Russian Wikipedia to have crashed at 19 Mar 03:42 am MST (i.e. UTC+3) in City of Rostov-na-Donu airport.

However, the first two videos related to this incident on YouTube, here and here are date stamped 18 March, before the accident is alleged to have happened.

I tried visiting video pages using proxies in 7 countries in different timezones including Russia. I've tried to use YouTube API that shows publish datetime but it is not working.

The MediaInfo utility shows that linked videos (downloaded) are encoded at UTC 19 Mar 02:42.

Similarly, the Russian Wikipedia page for the tragedy was created at 3:32 am 19 Mar, ten minutes before the crash.

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21  
AFAIK wikipedia time stamps are in UTC. So your creation date of 3:32 UTC would actually be 06:32 UTC+3 or almost 3 hours after the crash. – drat Mar 23 at 7:40
3  
Issues like these have popped up earlier (with other events) and are happily jumped upon by conspiracy theorists (I'm not accusing you of being one). We know from those past events that timestamps can be off for different reasons. IMO 'Issues' like these are no longer worth investigating. – Jan Doggen Mar 23 at 8:36
3  
The same thing happened with the MH17 crash - see Was the video about MH17 done the day before it crashed? - basically it's a weird glitch to do with how datestamps created for one system are interpreted by another. – user568458 Mar 23 at 14:00
1  
@Jamiec No, it might be nothing to do with time zones. According to the linked answer, YouTube apparently converts MPEG (1904) timestamps to UNIX (1970) timestamps using a standard that is off by one day (though I can't find any other source for that, and some of the links in that answer now point to 404s - timezones is a simpler explanation) – user568458 Mar 23 at 14:09
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@TripeHound lol, computers dont "get things wrong" - only the programmers who program them get things wrong! – Jamiec Mar 23 at 14:20
up vote 53 down vote accepted

When trying to ascertain why timestamps seem to disagree with each other, it is often important to start with an accurate (as possible) timeline of the events being reported on

It is also helpful to keep things co-ordinated to a single point of reference with respect to time, so we'll use UTC.


Timeline

  • FDB981 Scheduled to arrive Rostov-on-Don at 18th March 22:20 UTC (local: 19th March 01:20 MSK )
  • First approach aborted at 18th March 22:42 UTC (local: 19th March 01:42 MSK)
  • Second approach begins at 19th March 00:28 UTC (local: 03:28 MSK)
  • ATC alerts emergency crews of the crash at 00:42 UTC (local: 03:42 MSK)

(Note, the above is taken from the wikipedia article on the air crash As timings are rarely contentious, these figures are taken to be accurate.)


Videos

Two YouTube videos are under question, with both having descriptions ostensibly time stamped 18th March.

Helpfully, Amnesty International maintain an Youtube DataViewer which can extract the actual upload time of videos on you tube.

The first video has this description (auto-translated)

Published on Mar 18, 2016
Today March 18, 2016 in the 3-50 MSK at the airport of Rostov-on-Don arrived from Dubai crashed aircraft "Boeing 737-800". At an altitude of approximately 100-200 meters of the aircraft it took to complete the so-called peak and almost at a right angle at high speed crashed into the ground. 50 of the 55 passengers on board were Russians, five others - citizens of Ukraine and, presumably, Uzbekistan, all seven crew members were foreigners. Survive could not be anyone of them.

Using the DataView tool, gives the following information:

Video ID: oSzFPvG6EJM
Upload Date (YYYY/MM/DD): 2016-03-19
Upload Time (UTC): 06:24:31

The second video which has the identical description reveals:

Video ID: e_UFhwRVY1I
Upload Date (YYYY/MM/DD): 2016-03-19
Upload Time (UTC): 04:37:50


Russian Wikipedia

A cursory look at the revision history of the Russian Wikipedia page shows the earliest revision to be 19th March at 03:34 UTC. Again, this was many hours after the reported crash.


Conclusion

It is pretty clear that the two videos in question were uploaded, and the Russian wikipedia entry created, roughly 3-6 hours after the crash of FlyDubai 981.

It is quite possible that the user who uploaded the videos incorrectly noted the date. It is also worth remembering, that as the incident occurred just after midnight UTC, roughly half of the world was still on the 18th March. Without knowing the location of the video uploader, its possible that they were reporting on something which actually happened on the 19th March, whilst they them self were still in the final hours/minutes of 18th March.

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1  
A very good answer, now we sure that wikipedia timezone is UTC (never thought about this before). However, it makes no explanation in why Youtube shows incorrect date of upload, while the description of video is somewhat unreliable and yes, entered by uploader. The timestamps you post, they're 19 Mar not 18 surely, even if we take it as UTC+3 time. – MarkoGamma Mar 23 at 19:11
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@DmitrjA YouTube uses the time zone in California, which is UTC-7 or -8. – Dan Getz Mar 23 at 20:33
9  
@DanGetz Clear evidence that YouTube is behind the times. – CodesInChaos Mar 24 at 9:33
    
@CodesInChaos 7-8 hours behind the times? rimshot – pkaeding Mar 24 at 23:01

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