Image manipulation technology can bring fun results, but also create great controversy. And with the proliferation of false news, now, more than ever, it is important to know how to detect a false image. Do you know how to do it? Here are nine easy and practical guidelines for you to make sure the image is true before you share it.
After defeating Arizona, Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett led his team in a victory dance after the game in the locker room, while a photographer took a photo for the team's official Twitter account. The image captured the euphoria of the players after the victory, but it also served as a perfect base to create controversy on the part of the skilled creators of fake news on the internet seeking viral attention.
With a bit of pixel manipulation, the celebration dance was turned into an image of the group of players supposedly celebrating the burning of an American flag.
What do you do in the victory locker room? You victory dance. # SEAvsAZ pic.twitter.com/qJoVyG6ZM8
– Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) January 4, 2016
THE PROTESTS ARENT ABOUT OUR FLAG ???
RETWEET THE HELL OUT OF THIS # NFLBoycott # TakeAKnee # LockThemUp # MAGA pic.twitter.com/ba2iidqljW
– J.357 (@ cjlongoria07) September 29, 2017
Fake news is a growing problem, but when they are accompanied by manipulated images such as this, which are difficult to detect, they have even more power to become viral and reach their goal of creating controversy or dissemination.
Perhaps one might think that an incendiary or negatively shocking image would attract stricter scrutiny of the spectators, however, the opposite is generally the case: most people react viscerally to an image that disturbs them, before taking the time to analyze it. .
How to detect fake images
While the accuracy of an image may be difficult to detect, here are some ways to know if an image is retouched, edited or manipulated.
1. Start with sealesobvias
Sometimes, all you need to put that "fake" tag on an image is as simple as giving a closer look at the image itself. Photoshopping is a difficult art of mastering perfection, and making an object that does not belong, match the surrounding image, is difficult to do well. That complexity is good for detecting fake news, but if you've never opened Photoshop before, you may not know what to look for.
2. Question image details
Scientists say that our brains have problems with the concept of recording that what we are seeing may not be real, especially within a photograph, rather than a more subjective art form such as a painting, even when there are some common sense signs. That makes it easier to fall into the trap of a fake, especially if the image seems to confirm our own prejudices or beliefs. The first step is to really question the image, even when nothing immediately catches your attention. The next step is to take a critical look.
In the case of our example, the well-known phrase, "where there is smoke, there is fire", has a literal meaning in the false photo of the Seahawks. If the flag is really burning … where is the smoke?
3. Look for poorly trimmed edges
Cropping around the edges of an object is something difficult to do. Approach the photo in question and look at the edges of objects or people. Excessively straight, sharp or jagged edges are a telltale sign that that image simply stuck on the original photo.
4. Find shadows and lights that do not match
Another of the hardest things to counterfeit by joining two separate images is to match the light. Search where the dark areas or shadows should be, and try to detect discrepancies in the place where they fall. For example, if a picture of two people has shadows that fall on the left side of a person's nose, but on the right side of the other, one of those people has probably been stuck. Keep in mind that for interior photos this can be more complicated, since there may be multiple shadows cast from many different light sources.
This light trick is also an excellent way to easily say that the photo of the burning flag is false. Fire is a source of light, but the part of Bennet's body that is supposedly closer to the flag, his torso, is darker than the rest. If you were really holding a flag wrapped in glowing flames, you will be illuminated by them.
5. Treat controversial or sensational issues with great caution
Did you see any photo that instantly bothers you or worries and you are ready to press that button to share it? Take a deep breath before pressing it. Photographic manipulators want to go viral and take advantage of the viscera reactions of those who see their photographs. For example, that photo of the Seahawks was taken in 2016, and the fake image was just viralized after the nation was already divided over the NFL players who decided to kneel during the national anthem. In short, there was an audience ready for such an image and the creators of the fake knew it.
Studies and tests show that we are more likely to share content that makes us angry or sad. Photoshop manipulators know it, and since they want to become viral, they try to edit photographs in a way that will immediately make you angry; This is why unusual or controversial photographs are a very good reason to take a closer look at an image.
6. Suspicion of poor quality
Low resolution images can help hide the signs of a fake photo. It is difficult to see if the edges of the flag in that photo of the Seahawks are mixed, because the whole image is pixelated, a good warning sign that something is not right. With the widespread availability of high-speed Internet today, and high-resolution cameras on almost all phones, it is rare for an image to load at such a low resolution.
Often, determining that a photo is fake is as easy as clicking to see a larger version of the image. But sometimes, detecting the retouched parts is not so simple. So, if there are no suspicious signs that you can find inside the image, there are other ways to detect a possible forgery.
7. Perform a reverse image search
Photo manipulators generally do not use their own original photo to change it, but rather extract an image they found on the web and modify it. That makes detecting forgery easier, because it is possible to track the original photo using a reverse image search on Google (reverse image search). We explain how below.
Open the photo and click on the right button of your mouse or touch pad (or press the Control key and click on a Mac) and select the "copy link" option from the menu. Go to Google, click on “Images” to open the image search, and then click on the camera cone in the search field. This opens the function of searching by image, where you can paste (paste) the URL of the image you previously copied. Then, simply click on “Search by image”.
In the search results, click on "Visually Similar Images." Now, look for similar images that are not exactly the same as those in the photo in question. If we follow the process in the Seahawks image, you can see the original photograph within the first results.
8. Review the metadata
Digital cameras incorporate “invisible” data into the image file. While you can't see the information in the image, accessing it is easy using a photo editor, or even free online software. This is how to do it.
With the image link copied (or copy it again with a right click), paste the image URL into metapicz.com and press "go." You will be directed directly to a screen that contains all the metadata embedded in that file.
Counterfeit images are more likely to have deleted the metadata, which means that the data has been deleted from the file. In the photo of the fake flag, the EXIF area, which should show things like the type of camera and the exposure settings, simply shows "camera information not found" and "EXIF data not found." The original, on the other hand, says that the image was taken with a Nikon D750 by Rod Mar.
If the data related to the camera and the photographer are intact, the possibility of the photo being manipulated without ethics is reduced. But, as with the image itself, EXIF data can also be manipulated, so you cannot rely on this alone.
9. Test Snopes and other verification sites
If the details of the photo itself, the search for reverse images and EXIF data do not help you decipher whether you should trust the image or share it with peace of mind, try verification tools or content verification sites. Search websites like Snopes for some keywords in the image. Data verification organizations tend to detect viral counterfeits quickly.