Skip to Main Content

Fake News and Disinformation Guide

How Can Media Be Manipulated?

Cartoon person's face being manipulated by editing and audio softwareLost Context - The most common type; the information provided about the media doesn't represent what is actually happening. This could be missing the context for the event being recorded or showing an entirely unrelated occurrence.

Edited Media - This is when a video or image is edited in order to be an unfaithful representation of the event or to change the meaning entirely. This could be done through selective clipping, altering audio, or changing the quality.

Stage Media - This is when a situation is pre-planned or selectively recorded. These aren't always malicious, and could be part of a prank, stunt, or viral video recording.

Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) - We have come a long way with technology so that we can now create realistic special effects in videos. We see CGI in movies and tv, and it can applied to existing footage to change the representation.

Synthetic Media - Also known as "deepfakes", this method combines CGI with deep-learning algorithms on computers to create near-believable media. This can be used to recreate people's faces and voices, as well as re-create scenes.

(Source: Reuters) (Image Source: Oficina de Seguridad del Internauta (OSI))

How to Tell If An Image is Edited

When you encounter an image online that looks too unbelievable to possibly be true, maybe it isn't? Here are a few tips for evaluating images you see online that could possibly be edited. 

Stop and think - Take a moment to really look at the image and look to see if something doesn't make sense or comes off as weird.

Look for bad edges - Has the image been intentionally cropped? Can you see any evidence that something was pasted into the original image?

Find mismatched light - Matching light is one of the trickiest things to do when editing photos. Look where the light source is in the photo and then track the way shadows fall.

Be wary of poor quality - A low-resolution photo can be the perfect way to hide editing, so be wary of this when you see an image

Conduct a reverse image search - There are many search engines out there that you can use to find the original of an image and compare it to the one you're seeing.

Consult a fact checker website - There are many websites out there devoted to debunking fake news, and that includes manipulated media. If it's a viral image, they likely have some information on it.

(Source: Digital Trends)

Common Sense Education - How to Use Google Reverse Image Search to Fact Check Images