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Monday, January 11, 2016

Six ways to tell if a viral story is a hoax

Visit The Conversation for complete details.

Reverse image search – this is one of the simplest verification tools that will often turn up photos posted with the current story are actually years old. Or, as in the case of a recent Facebook photo I saw of President and Mrs. Obama purporting to show them “saluting” the flag with their left hand, the image was simply reversed and a few touchups made. It took me less than one minute to find the original photo that had clearly been doctored in the Facebook post.

YouTube DataViewer - When watching the latest viral video on YouTube, it’s important to be on the look-out for “scrapes”: a scrape is an old video, which has been downloaded from YouTube and re-uploaded. Amnesty International has a simple but incredibly useful tool called YouTube DataViewer that will extract the clip’s upload time and all associated thumbnail images. 

Jeffrey’s Exif Viewer - Photos, videos and audio taken with digital cameras and smartphones contain Exchangeable Image File (EXIF) information: this is vital metadata about the make of the camera used, and the date, time and location the media was created. This information can be very useful if you’re suspicious of the creator’s account of the content’s origins.

FotoForensics - a tool that uses error level analysis (ELA) to identify parts of an image that may have been modified or “photoshopped”. 

WolframAlpha - is a “computational knowledge engine”, which allows you to check weather conditions in at a specific time and place. You can check to see if the actual weather matches the date and time a photo was supposed to have been taken. 

Google Maps Street View - identifying the location of a suspicious photo or video is a crucial part of the verification process...identify whether there are any reference points to compare, check whether distinctive landmarks match up and see if the landscape is the same.

Related: How Not to Publish Baloney 5 Easy Ways to Spot a B.S. News StoryBusiness Insider

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