PC Doctor February 24, 2017

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Dear PC Doctor:

I heard that there’s a way to find out more about the true origin of a photo you see on the internet.  I ask because sometimes I see the same picture connected with more than one article, each with a caption claiming something different.  How can I tell where a picture is from and whether it’s really showing what the article says it is? 





Dear Lil:

Great question!

You may be thinking of a reverse image search.  In the Chrome browser, you can right click your mouse on any image you see on a website.  You’ll get a box with menu choices.  Choose “Search Google for this image.”  A new browser tab will open with your results.  You’ll get a list of websites that have all used that image.  Similarly, Mozilla Firefox has a Google Reverse Image Search add-on tool that you can use.  If an image has been used on many sites for more than one story, it’s safe to be skeptical.

For example, I found a photo in an online article about daycare center closings this week.  It shows an adult holding a toddler with a flag.  From the headline, you would assume it was a photo of a parent and child who just lost their daycare situation.  When I did the reverse image search, I got a long page of hits, many of which were months old.  That photo was used in stories from last July, November 2015, and even earlier.  On some of the sites, the image was credited as a stock image.  On others, it was not.  So, while we can’t make the leap to say that the story that accompanied the photo wasn’t true, we can know that it does not depict a family that was photographed as it lost its childcare as a result of changes this week. 


I hope this helps!
Until next time,
Happy computing!

    PC Doctor