Baltimore Burning and Verification

Baltimore ‘looting’ tweets show importance of quick and easy image checks by Eoghan mac Suibhne.

From the post:

Anyone who has ever asked me for tips on content verification and debunking of fakes knows one of the first things I always mention is reverse image search. It’s one of the simplest and most powerful tools at your disposal. This week provided another good example of how overlooked it is.

Unrest in Baltimore, like any other dramatic event these days, created a surge of activity on social media. In the age of the selfie and ubiquitous cameras, many people have become compulsive chroniclers of all their activities — sometimes unwisely so.

Reactions ranged from shock and disgust to disbelief and amusement when a series of images started to circulate showing looters proudly displaying their ill-gotten gains. Not all, however, was as it seemed.

(emphasis in original)

I often get asked about the fundamentals of verification, and one of the first things I alway mention is the ability — and indeed the reflex — to always perform a reverse image search. I also mention, only half-jokingly, that this should possibly even be added to the school curriculum. It’s not as if it would take up much of the school year; it can be taught in approximately 30 seconds.

In the case of the trashed KFC above, a quick check via Google reverse image search or Tineye showed that the photo was taken in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2012.


Don’t be confused by the “reverse image search” terminology. What you see on Google Images is the standard search box, that includes camera and microphone icons. Choose the camera icon and you will be given the opportunity to search using an image. Paste in an image URL and search. Simple as that.

Imagine describing a standard Google search as a “Google reverse word search.” Confusion and hilarity would ensue pretty quickly.

Develop a habit of verification.

You will have fewer occasions to say, “That’s my opinion and I am entitled to it,” in the face of contrary evidence.

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