As events unfold simultaneously and time is scarce (as always), validating the authenticity of content that shapes your narrative gets harder. As part of your investigation, you may check the validity of information with your trusted sources or you may do a quick desk research to make sure the content that you are about to use is not fake.
Of course, things change when you are away from your desk. It happens quite often when you may see an image on Twitter when you’re on the go or outside covering a protest. It’s a strong image and it deserves to be part of your narrative-only if it’s true.
The classical parting of the ways is reached: either stop doing what’s at hand and focus on validating the authenticity, or ignore and not use the image until someone else does it. Let’s face it-neither option is worse than using an image in your storytelling, making it the centrepiece and then receiving mentions saying that the image was reuse and it’s from 5 years ago. Now, when seeing such an image, the obvious way to go is reverse image searching and making sure that the image is not being ripped from a totally unrelated past event.
Reverse image search is made simpler and faster, thanks to efforts from an increasing number of web crawlers. One of them is tineye.com. In 3 simple steps, you can reverse image search on your mobile phone and it’s really fast. Whenever you come across photos shared on social:
First, save the photo to your camera roll.
Open tineye.com in your browser.
Upload the photo and check if the photo had been published on the internet before.
TinEye finds exact and altered copies of images by looking at the actual pixels. Unlike Google’s or other reverse image search tools’ technologies, TinEye doesn’t identify people or objects in an image. It doesn’t save your images and is free to use for non-commercial purposes.
Bonus Feature: TinEye Alerts tracks where and how your images appear online
The hope is that you are on top of the story that you are covering. You are among the first ones to document the events, post photos and share the real story. When you are there, expect your content to be reused. It can be fine as long as the person is spreading the word. But you may want to control and monitor who is using your photos. Years later, your photo might be used to spread misinformation and cause noise. Or some lazy mass media “journalist” might be stealing your image, using it without permission.
As TinEye crawls millions of new pages and images every month, you can set up an alert to notify you when your image is being reused elsewhere. By uploading the image in question to TinEye and setting up an alert, TinEye keeps on comparing your image to the crawled ones, and TinEye shows you where they found your image.