The keys to verifying images

On the internet and in social media, just as in real life, all is not as it seems. Some of the images sent to our mobiles, tablets or computers have been manipulated, or do not correspond to the reality they claim to represent. It is therefore important to learn the key elements in verifying a photograph in order to remain well informed. Here you can see a group of students from our workshops verifying an image. Then, try it yourself with the keys.

1. Suspect

Above all when you receive an image from an unknown, anonymous or unreliable source, you should immediately be on the lookout, examine the contents with a critical eye and take nothing for granted.

2. Look carefully

In a society based on immediacy, it is vital to stop for a moment and take a careful look, to scrutinize the image looking for clues to help in this process of verification. Is there anything suspicious? There are plenty of aspects you can focus on: are people wearing warm clothing in a city and a time when wheather is really hot? Are the shadows suspicious? Does one color predominate for no reason? Does the vegetation in the photograph fail to match the flora you would expect in the location, given the climate? Are ther flags or posters in a particular language, vehicle license plates, highway or subway signs that might provide a clue? It is also very important to look at a few of the comments that the community is making about the content. Someone might already have flagged up the fake, to give a warning not to be taken in.

3. Query

To verify an image you need to ask yourself a few essential questions, such as: whether you are looking at the original version, who took the photograph, where and when it was taken, and also why or in what circumstances. The First Draft photograph verification guide helps explain how to tell whether an image is false, suspicious or truthful by answering each of these questions.

4. Use tools

The Google Images and TinEye tools allow reverse image searches helping to verify the photo. Fotoforensics can also be of great use.

5. Warn and don't share

If you suspect that a photograph could be fake, don’t pass it on, and so make your little contribution to stopping disinformation.

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