How to Find Fake Photos on the Web

Making up of news stories to deceive or even entertain people isn’t new. The Onion’s media empire, built on satirical, fake news stories, has been around since 1988.


Find Fake Photos on the Web


In this digital world, it’s easier for someone to do photo editing, where the ordinary photo becomes extraordinary in just a matter of minutes. You can turn the subject however you want tall or short, thin or fat, black or white and more.

Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • Beware of other websites that offer reverse searching, as they might leak your uploaded file or even sell it indiscriminately across the internet.
  • When you see a hit with your picture, don’t assume the website has ripped you off, as it may have been uploaded by a third party user.
  • Have an open mind when searching if the picture is copied from the web. Not all reverse searches can give desirable results.

The web-site tells about several online tools, using which you can verify the authenticity of photos, extract as much data from them as possible, and to find more information about a person. – a free tool where you could upload a photo or provide a reference to it and Findexif will identify EXIF-data (when and with what device a photo was made, image characteristics, sometimes a place, where a photo was made, could also be identified).

Foto Forensics – a web-site that can run error level analysis (ELA), that is to find parts of a picture that were added to it after editing. After processing a photo the program produces the image with edited parts standing out. Besides, the program will also provide EXIF-data of a photo.

Google Search by Image – reverse image search. You could upload a photo there in order to find its origin source and to examine where else it was published.

TinEye – one more tool for reverse image search.

JPEGSnoop– a program that has to be installed (only for Windows). It shows metadata not only of images, but also of such formats as AVI, DNG, PDF, THM. The program could be used for different purposes. For example, it makes possible to detect errors in corrupted file, to find out if an image was edited and so on.

Image checking algorithm

1. To determine a photographer or an origin of a photo. The most obvious and often the most efficient way to do it is to contact a person who uploaded a photo or sent it to an editor and to ask if this person made that photo by himself/herself. Also it is obligatory to try to find this photo with a reverse image search. Google also shows similar images, and sometimes it helps to determine if the photo was edited. As usual a reference to a high-resolution image would be the original source.

2. You also have to check a person that spreads information. There are several different tools that can help to gather information about him/her. Though they are mostly designed for the US residents, but there are also some that will be useful for residents of other countries. For example, looks for “Internet trace” of a user, helps to identify him/her, to find photos. You have to enter the name of the person in Latin and the program will run search through all American social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace). The feature of the program is that it runs search through deepWeb, which is ignored by ordinary search engines and is not available for users.

Additional useful tool WebMii searches the reference with the name of the person, produces the “web visibility” rating, using which you could find out fake accounts. Thanks to this tool everyone can find references to his/her name on international sites.

You can use a search through Runet.

3. The next step is to determine place, date and approximate time of the photo. The easiest way is to ask the photographer (if he/she is available) or ask him/her to make more photos of that place. Then you should check the given data with the abovementioned programs. Journalists, who are good in digital photography, will understand numerous characteristics, provided by this program. The most important information for the others is time, place, and the type of a camera. If metadata is not available, you have to examine carefully the picture: license plate numbers, weather conditions, landscape, mode of dress, advertisements, buildings, stores. All these details can help to determine the place, sometimes they could even testify forgery.

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