How to Check Images for Authenticity
In the days before the internet, seeing used to be believing. Now in the days of Photoshop and the frenzy on social media to share photos and images, it is easy to be deceived by altered and fake photos unless you are careful.
Why Fake Photos?
Some people do it just for fun as they play around with Photoshop and similar image editing software. Others want to create a “wow” image that will get them a lot of likes and shares on social media, which can translate into more traffic, subscribers and sales.
Still others are deliberately trying to deceive people in order to sway opinion and manipulate people, such as in the run-up to the 2016 elections in the United States. For example, Russian operatives set up hundreds of sites with thousands of images showing direct bias against immigrants. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/fake-views-russians-posting-doctored-images-on-facebook-exploited-loophole-2018-02-23
There are fact-checking and image-checking sites available, but it would be a full-time job to check everything you see being posted. And most biased people are not going to care anyway, but just hit the share button.
However, if you care about whether or not the photos you see are authentic, here are some ways to spot the fakes.
1. Look for Strange Angles
You can often tell if something has been inserted by the fact that the angles dont match those of other items in the photo. Inserting an extra person into a photo is a common scam but there will usually be something odd about it.
2. Watch Out for Strange Shadows and Lighting
Similarly, inserting an extra element into a photo often doesnt work because of light and shade in the photo, and color mismatch as a result.
3. Do a Reality Check on the Location of the Photo
Is it an actual photo of the location it claims to be? A supposed “huge” rally for Donald Trump in Arizona posted on his Twitter account was spotted by Cleveland natives as being their home town in the middle of the Cavaliers basketball championship parade through downtown.
A current popular fake photo of the worlds supposed largest snake shows a scaled-up anaconda on completely the wrong continent.
4. Check the Quality
In some cases, one part of the photo might be grainy or blurred, the other clear – again showing an insertion of something that was never there in the first place.
5. Compare to Similar Photos Online
You can check Google images, which will usually show more than one copy of the same photo. In some cases, you will find sites that have added things and in some cases, even taken things away. One newspaper was caught routinely editing out Hillary Clinton from photos of important political events.
6. Use Tools
There are a number of useful tools which can help you detect image fraud if you still cant tell after your own commonsense reality check.
* TinEye – https://www.tineye.com/
This is a reverse image search to help you find the originals of photos. There are more than 17 billion searchable images in the interface.
* Google Images reverse search – https://images.google.com/
Enter the url to locate the original.
* Izitru – https://www.izitru.com/
This tool will run photos through several layers of certification to see whether or not it has been altered in some way. It will then assign a trust rating to the image.
* FotoForensics – http://fotoforensics.com/
This will also give you detailed information about a photo and whether or not it has been edited. It is a bit complicated to use; however, if you are a media professional buying what you hope to be authentic photos from reputable photographers, it is worth using.