Seeing is Not Always Believing

We lead increasingly visual lives these days. How can you tell if someone’s #bestlife is really theirs?

If you see an image that looks too good to be true, keep in mind that it might be. It might have taken hours to achieve the perfect post with special lighting to achieve that natural glow and lots of planning behind that seemingly unplanned pic.

Of course, it’s one thing to stage a photo or select a filter, and another to digitally alter an image in an effort to purposely confuse a viewer or gain attention. If you suspect an image is being used improperly or being recycled, one way to stay alert visually is to double check images using Reverse Image Search on Google.

While working in the Chrome browser, right-click on an image and select “Search Google for image.” This is a good way to check if you believe a photo might not be current or was actually originally intended for something else.

If regularly searching images (to find where an image came from or to handily track down a high-resolution version), TinEye is the official extension for Chrome. You can also reverse search images from your phone.

To do a little digging on the image itself, check the metadata, which includes everything from the camera make and model, to camera settings used, and the date and time an image was captured. You can check the metadata using various programs.

When in doubt, trust your gut. You know that not everything is what it seems on the internet. Sometimes it can be as simple as seeing something and knowing it just isn’t right. In his many years studying digital image forensics, Hany Farid, author of Photo Forensics, has amassed a slew of tips. Among them: “Beware of spectacular shark photos.”

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