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Reverse image search helps stop the spread of misinformation

"Should I share this with people?”
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Posted at 4:52 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-26 01:46:32-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Last year marked a year of rapidly spreading misinformation according to the News Literacy Project.

Events like the January 6 attacks on the U.S. capitol, rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, and the presidential race all contributed to misinformation shared on the internet.

You’ve heard the saying ‘don’t believe everything you read’ when scrolling on social media.

That’s exactly what misinformation experts said you should think about before sharing content and shows ways you can double check what you're sharing is factual information.

John Silva with News Literacy Project said, “If you see an image and you feel like you want to share it with people, you need to take a pause and say is this legit? should I share this with people?”

When scrolling through social media, the last thought that might come to mind is, ‘where did this photo come from?’

“Manipulated images or photoshopped images are very common,” Silva said.

That’s why Silva said to think twice before clicking the share button: “When you look at the volume of misinformation, the overwhelming amount of what we see is not coming from people who have created it. It's coming from people like us, people who share it."

Silva said one way to reduce spreading misinformation is by conducting a reverse image search.

This is how you do it.

First, right click the image you want to verify. In the pop-up menu, click ‘search the image’ and in the results, you’ll see links to specific tweets, Facebook posts where that photo has also been posted.

Silva added that the most popular items manipulated in a photo are T-shirts and signs.

“It is very easy for us to be fooled by an image. The stronger the emotional reaction, the less likely we are to actually evaluate it critically because that is two parts of our brains.”

Silva said the search process takes just a few seconds and can be done on just about any image posted on the internet.

“You'll build your own misinformation detecting skills and you’ll start to recognize patterns and it’ll just become a lot easier.”

Reverse searching an image is not the only tool that can be used to reduce the spread of misinformation. Silva said to make sure you’re following credible news sources and use other fact-checking organizations like PolitiFact and Snopes before you share content online.


When it comes to searching for a specific piece of information online can be daunting.

23ABC Anchor, Keeley Van Middendorp looked into it.

She wanted to know how to fine tune a Google search - and have more now from The News Literacy Project, who partnered with Disinformation Research Expert Cindy Otis to offer tips on narrowing down results so you find the news you need.

First - Otis suggests using quotation marks around your search terms; this way Google will search for webpages containing that exact phrase.

If you are looking specifically for news articles that contain your search term, click on the Google tab labeled “news.”

In all caps - use "And" when you’re searching to find results that contain more than one exact search term; use "Or" -all uppercase- when you’re trying to find content containing only one of your search terms.

Also - narrow the time frame of your results to a specific date range; when you get results, click on “Tools” and then “any time” for a list of dropdown options.

Also, limit your results to one specific website by following the example listed there on your screen. And - to exclude particular terms or websites from your search, just type the minus sign before it.