How to tell if a news story is fake on the Internet

When surfing the Internet, it is extremely important to tread carefully, as even the most experienced people are at risk of receiving false and malicious information. But how do you know that a piece of news is fake? Who ends up winning from all this? Evil, mockery, ignorance and, although it may seem a bit paranoid, politics and power certainly win.

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reality by analyzing fake news

Who loses? We lose all those who appreciate the truth. The problem is not limited by one geographical region, it happens in every corner of the world. Taking inspiration from an article written by Pete Brown of the University of Oxford, where he encourages people to combat lies on the internet, we present the weapons you can use to get to the truth.

In the digital age, true or fake news spreads very quickly. That is why when someone retracts, makes a correction or denounces that a certain issue is a farce, it does very little to deal with the initial misinformation. Nowadays, verification skills are a must for anyone who is dedicated to reporting.

And to our great fortune, there are a variety of relatively effective public tools that don’t require any specialized knowledge or expensive computer programs.

SEE ALSO: 3 Online Tools to Help You Overcome Stressful Times

1 – Do a reverse image search.

A reverse image search can be done with a simple verification tool. With something as basic as this, it is possible to know if a photograph comes from a previous event and even locate the original source.

Fake News reverse image search

When they posted a link to the story on Reddit, skeptics quickly took to Google to verify it. Within minutes, a user warned, “Google Image Search notes that the photo was taken in 2012.”

In Google Chrome, just right-click on any image and then “Google Image Search”. Another way is to copy the URL of the image (also by right-clicking on it) and bring the address to Google Image Search.

2 – YouTube DataViewer.

When viewing a recent video on YouTube, it is essential to verify whether it was not “reused”: an old video that was downloaded from YouTube and re-uploaded by someone who fraudulently highlights it as a new event.

Amnesty International has a simple but incredibly useful tool called YouTube DataViewer. Just access the site and enter the URL of the video, this tool will get the date the video was uploaded and all the associated thumbnail images. This information – which is not easily accessible through YouTube – allows for verification research on two fronts.

On the one hand, it allows you to verify, among the various versions of the same video, which one is the oldest. It is likely that the oldest is the original version and the others are fake. Another important source of information is video thumbnails. Thumbnail images can also be analyzed using the technique described in point number one. This way, you’ll find the websites that contain the video, an effective and quick method to identify older versions or information from the video itself.

3 – Check the EXIF data.

Videos, photographs, and audios obtained from digital cameras and smartphones contain data called Exchangeable Image File (EXIF): this is metadata about the brand of the camera used, the time, and the place where the media was created. This information can be extremely useful if you are suspicious of the source of the content. In such a situation, EXIF readers, such as Jeffrey Exif Viewer, allow you to upload an image or type in a URL to extract the metadata.

Below I show you the EXIF data from a photograph I took of the disasters caused by Storm Manuel in Guerrero, in September 2013. If I were to mention that the photograph was taken a few days ago somewhere else, it would be very easy to refute the information. It’s also important to note that sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram remove EXIF data from files when content is uploaded to their servers, other platforms like Flickr keep it and actually display it partially.

EXIF Information

4 – Forensic photography.

FotoForensics is a site that is used to perform an Error Level Analysis (ELA) that allows you to identify the parts of an image that may have been modified with digital means. This tool allows you to upload a file or enter the URL of the suspicious image.

The site analyzes and highlights areas where quality disparity suggests alterations. It also offers a number of options for sharing and disclosing the results of the analysis done by the site.

5 – The wonderful WolframAlpha.

Formally, WolframAlpha is a “computational intelligence software” that allows, among many other things, to check the weather at a specific time and place. You can research using criteria such as “weather in London, July 13, 2015.”

Time Date Information

By entering such a term, for example, you can confirm or refute a photograph claiming that there was a terrible snowfall. If the context of what was returned by WolframAlpha doesn’t match the image, you can be sure it’s a scam.

6 – Online maps.

Identifying the location of a suspicious photo or video is an important part of the verification process. Tools like Google Street View, Google Earth, and Wikimapia are great for doing this kind of detective work.

You can identify if there are benchmarks to compare; For example, if the landscape is the same or if the location information matches what is shown. These criteria are often used to cross-reference video and photographic information, in order to verify if they were actually recorded at the place claimed.