15 Fact-Checking Images and Memes

Find Trusted Coverage

Often, claims or stories will come to you in the form of images and memes. How do you know if images have been digitally altered (Photoshopped) or if they are being shared out of context (misrepresented)?

If you want to find trusted coverage of the issue, claim, or photo, you have two options:

  1. You can search the relevant text from the image.
  2. You can use “reverse image search.”

Reverse Image Search Using Google

On your Computer

Using Chrome as your browser, right-click the image and select “Search Google for image.” Note: On a Mac, use Control-click. On a Chromebook, use Alt-click.

In the example below, we can do a reverse image search on this tweet that uses a picture from the Tulsa Race Massacre.

Tulsa Race Massacre pic from tweet

On your Phone

Using Chrome (app), touch and hold the image, then select “Search Google for This Image.” Note: You may first have to click a menu option to “Open in Chrome.”

Touching and holding on an image in Chrome on a smartphone gives a menu option to "Search Google for This Image"
Although it is a bit more difficult, you can also conduct a reverse image search on your phone.

The Results

You will get a list of any other websites where the image has been used, including previous fact-checks of the image, and perhaps even a link to the real version of the photo.

In our example, we see that this image has appeared in many other places, and that it has already been shown to be true by a reputable historical organization.

Tulsa Race Massacre photo reverse search results

The results of this fact-checking led to some of the actual images, in context. In the screenshot below from the archive of the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum, we see that the image from the tweet was actually a postcard of a picture taken during the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921.

Tulsa Historical Society and Museum archive

Concept Review Exercise: Image Fact-Checking

Sources

This section includes material from the source book, Introduction to College Research, as well as the following:

99 years today since Tulsa white rioters…” Twitter, posted by edithmayhall, 31 May 2020.

Find Trusted Coverage section adapted from “Check, Please! Starter Course,” licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Reverse Image Search section adapted from “Library 10” by Cabrillo College Library, licensed under CC BY 4.0.

Original material by book author Calantha Tillotson.

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

The Insiders: Information Literacy for Okies Everywhere by Adam Brennan; Jamie Holmes; Calantha Tillotson; and Sarah Burkhead Whittle is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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