Don’t get fooled by Fake News! A useful tip

I really didn’t want to put Fake News in the headline of this post, but really that is what this post is all about. How to use a reverse image search when you are on a mobile device, so that you can spot a Fake News story.

Recently a friend shared a Facebook story that just didn’t add up. The photo was of a man in hazmat style suit purportedly cleaning up an oil spill in North Dakota. You can see a version of the photo at the top of the article. The story implied some type of conspiracy that was preventing news of the oil spill from being covered.

A Reverse Image Search told a different story

This didn’t make sense to me, especially as I had been following news of an oil spill that was not on the scale shown by the photo. However a few minutes with a reverse image search showed the picture had been taken in China, and had nothing to do with North Dakota. This made the rest of the story even more unlikely.

Performing your search

A reverse image search is easy to do on a mobile device although iOS users need to download the Chrome browser app first.  Sorry, but Safari doesn’t support Googles image search file upload.

With that in mind here are the steps to performing your reverse image search:

  1. Save a copy of the photo locally, this might mean taking a screenshot depending on the posts’ privacy settings. Here you can see the photo I used. Note that the poster changed the photo to Black and White in order to make it harder to search. Didn’t work though!

    Altered version of original oil spill clean up photo
    Black and White photo of oil cleanup effort – altered from original
  2. Open Chrome and go to www.google.ca

    Either google.ca or google.com will work
    Either google.ca or google.com will work
  3. Click the Images link on the page to go to Image search. Currently that link is in the top right corner of the screen.

    Google Image Search, showing Camera
    You are in Image Search, when the camera icon is in the search bar.
  4. Click the Camera icon to see your options for searching using an image file.
    Google image search options
    Google Image search options. Search by pasting the URL of the image or by uploading the file.

    Choose the Upload an Image tab.

  5. Uploading an Image
    Uploading an Image

    Click the Choose File button.

  6. You will be offered a choice of taking a new photo or going to your Photo Library. Select your photo library, and locate the image you saved previously.
  7. The file is uploaded automatically and the search is performed.
    Reverse Image Search Results
     Reverse Image Search Results initial screen

    Make sure you scroll down the page looking for the Pages that include matching images.

    finding pages that include matching images
    Reverse Image Search – Pages that include matching images.

    Reverse Image searches are amazing

Frankly, I was astounded that the image was located even after it had been changed. Reverse image searches are a powerful tool! Whether from malicious intent or the desire to give a story emotional impact, there are all too many posts on the net where images are misused. Don’t be fooled.

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