Never share a hoax image ever, ever again.
It’s happened to all of us. We pore over a photo on Instagram, like and share an image on Facebook, or retweet a picture on Twitter, only to find out later that it was a hoax. Then we delete it immediately and try to act like it never happened. Exhausting.
These hoaxes are particularly common during natural disasters and other tragedies that touch the world, when people are especially open to images that show humankind at its best.
Remember this photo? It allegedly showed a brother hugging his sister in the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal.
It’s touching. It’s moving. It breaks your heart.
But it wasn’t taken during the Nepal Earthquake. It was taken years beforehand, and surfaced again during the recent tragedy.
What about this photo, allegedly of an Syrian orphan sleeping between the graves of his parents?
Well, yeah – but this photo was actually staged as part of a conceptual art project by a Saudi Arabian photographer, and the boy in the photo is his nephew.
So how can you avoid being fooled? We’ve rounded up three easy checks you can do yourself.
1. Reverse Google Image Search
If you use Google Chrome as your browser, this couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is left click on the photo and select ‘Search Google for this Image’.
You’ll be taken to a results page for images in exactly the same dimensions as the one you’ve chosen, so you’ll need to select the ‘All sizes’ option.
You’ll now be able to see all the times that photo has been published across the Internet, in every size.
Now it’s time for some sleuthing! Click through the images. See where they’ve been published before, and when. You can even do a custom search for time to see if the image appeared before the time it claims to have been taken.
Snopes is an hoax-busting website that debunks online myths and scams. If Snopes says something isn’t real, it’s not real. You can check out new hoaxes and hoaxes by category to see if the photo you’re wondering about makes an appearance.
Twitter is the source of many internet hoaxes, but it can also help you debunk them. There are a few Twitter accounts dedicated to exposing hoaxes. Check out @FakeAstropix and @PicPedant to start with.
Have you ever fallen for an internet hoax? Do you have any other tips to share?
More ways to make your life easier: