In the digital age, news no longer requires days or weeks to be passed around. A breaking story can be broadcast to the entire world in a few short hours. Gone are the days of painfully long waiting times for a letter to be delivered or to arrive. Our global microwave culture can witness mind-bending news reports or accomplishments in what feels like no time at all.
With the ability to share information and stories at the speed of lightning has come a slew of false information. There seems to be a new viral story popping up every week, which begs the question – “Did this viral story actually take place?” Fortunately, the Web hosts a variety of sites and resources that are useful in hunting down authentic information. Check out our list below for a digital truth-testing toolbox.
Examine With FotoForensics
This website provides an upload feature to scan a picture for quality disparities. The site examines your photo or URL to detect any suspicious graphic elements. FotoForensics uses a procedure called error level analysis (ELA), highlights potential issues with the picture and then provides sharing options.
Check Out Google’s Reverse Image Search
If doubting a photo is real at all, or that it came from a completely different source, hop on over to Google and check the image out. Your result should turn up a year the picture was taken and likely the location.
Upload And Assess With TinEye
This site is another popular and quickly-growing resource for reverse image searching. The site has already indexed over 13 billion images and this is not slowing down any time soon.
Look Deeper With Jeffrey Friedl’s Image Viewer
The exchangeable image file (EXIF) on pictures and video is recorded during the creation of a file. To fully determine when, where and in what format a piece of media was created, you’ll need to access the EXIF. This can be easily done on Friedl’s site.
Retrieve Info With WolframAlpha
This site is a mega database of information, and especially useful when it comes to determining the weather on a certain day. You can plug in the info you’re looking for along with the date, and WolframAlpha will return to you an impressively comprehensive result. This resource comes in handy if you see a post or picture about a natural disaster or weather incident that seems highly unlikely.
Verify With YouTube DataViewer
YouTube’s DataViewer is, surprisingly, not readily accessible through YouTube. Rather, it was first provided through the non-profit Amnesty International, an organization that works to uphold human rights across the globe and validate those who have been wronged. Their convenient web tool allows you to search for fraudulent uploads and “scrapes” – generally, any kind of video that does not legitimately have the origin or source it claims to have.
Consult Various Online Maps
Last but far from least, some of the primary online maps such as Google Earth, Wikimapia and Google Street View are all highly reliable sources for map info. Wikimapia is essentially the crowdsourced version of Google Maps, but has additional resources. Google Earth and Street View are also always being updated, and provide exhaustive details and options for customizing a search. There’s little these three maps alone cannot verify, if anything.
Viral videos and pictures become viral for a reason – they tap into sensationalism in some fashion, and people’s emotions are so moved that they feel an urge to spread the word. Anger, shock, sadness, elation and outrage can all push someone over the brink, but the vast majority of people will not hold themselves back long enough to examine a viral story further. Now, thanks to these web tools, you have rapid and trustworthy methods for checking out what’s real, and what’s rubbish.