How to spot fake images surrounding the U.S.-Iran conflict
Military conflicts — like the one that is sparking between the United States and Iran — are usually surrounded by false images and outdated videos that go viral on social media. It happened in Turkey the other day. To avoid that misinformation scenario, the International Fact-Checking Network developed a step-by-step guide to teach citizens how to verify images, from asking simple and rhetorical questions to using reverse image search on cell phones, Poynter reports in its article How to use your phone to spot fake images surrounding the U.S.-Iran conflict.
Ask simple questions
When you receive an image or a video on social media, be skeptical about the content and consider maybe questioning the person who sent you the file.
When was the picture taken?
Is there any information in the image that allows you to tell when the photo was taken? If not, are there any clues about it? For example, it is winter in Iran now (about 35 degrees F), and the picture you received on Twitter supposedly shows Tehran today, during a protest against the death of Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Are people wearing coats and long sleeves?
Where was the picture taken?
Is there any information in the image that you can use to know where the photo was taken? If not, can you find any clues? How about the name of a store, a building or a sign? Does the language fit what you expected to see?
Who took the picture?
Can you or the person who sent you this photo say who took the picture? If not, ask yourself: who is the source?
It can be quite easy to find inconsistent lighting in a photo, indicating manipulation. Check if objects that are close to one another are lit in the same way. If one seems brighter or duller than the other, there’s a good chance they’ve been added or digitally manipulated.
Why are you receiving this now?
Make sure you are aware of the context. Think about the reason why someone is sending you or sharing on social media a photo today, not yesterday or tomorrow. False news producers take advantage of breaking news to spread disinformation and fool people.
Meet Google Reverse Image Search
Google Reverse Image Search on a smartphone is easy to use and could be taught in schools. Check the results for when and where else the image was used. If you go back far enough, you should be able to find where it was originally used and, possibly, the owner of the copyright to the picture. Select “Search Google for this image” to initiate a reverse image search.
TinEye is a great free tool and works just like Google Reverse Image Search. It allows you to filter the results by the “oldest” and see previous versions of the image you are searching for. This feature can be helpful when you want to prove a photo is not from today.
Yandex is a Russian search engine that can be very helpful when trying to find content from the eastern side of the world. It works just like Google Reverse Image Search.