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Click Here Comrade: We show you how to spot a misleading photo online

Let's take a second look at that picture you've seen circulating online.

PHOENIX — We live in a world of Twitter hot takes and instant punditry where everyone wants to be first to the punch --  or the punchline. That combination of speed and opinion can make us vulnerable to disinformation. "Click Here Comrade" is 12 News's attempt to give you the tools you need to sort what's real from what's not. We'll be posting more videos over the next few weeks with tips and tricks.

The internet -- a world wide web of information, entertainment, inspiration and, unfortunately, deception. 

How do we know if what we are reading, seeing or sharing online can be trusted?

Let's take a second look at that picture you've seen circulating online. 

Julie Smith, a professor at Webster University in St. Louis, explained how you can verify if a photo has been reused, recycled, re-framed or re-purposed in order to represent something else. 

"Sometimes recycled photos can be used for political purposes. I’ve seen recycled photos used to influence the conversation about immigration or elections," Smith said.       

Credit: 12 News
The photo featured in this tweet was posted online following the airstrikes in Iraq and Syria in December 2019. The writing does say "Thank you, Trump," but a Google searched revealed the photo was taken in 2018. This old photo was re-packaged to make it look current, Smith explained.

Signs a photo may have been reused, recycled, re-framed or re-purposed: 

1. Is the photo newsworthy? 

2. Is the photo compelling? 

3. Is the photo graphic? Attention-grabbing?

4. Does the photo elicit a strong emotional response? 

How to find out if a photo has been reused, recycled, re-framed or re-purposed:

Try a reverse Google image search on the photo. Save and drag the photo into the search bar on Google. The results should tell you where the photo is being used online.

There is also a Chrome extension that does something very similar.  

"Whave to make sure we are staying informed without losing our idea of what it means to be informed," Smith said. 

Want some tools? 

Test yourself at Media Smarts Canada "Break the Fake" game

Is that Twitter account a bot? Check the Bot-o-Meter

Want to track the spread of claims and fact-checking? Try Hoaxy.

How well do you know your news literacy fundamentals? Try this quiz from the News Literacy Project

InVid browser extension to help you verify online photos and videos




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