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Tips for checking images online

While young people are fond of social networks and use them as their main source of information, it may be wise to help them develop a new skill: that of verifying the origin of the images and videos they see online.

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ATTENTION! The English translation is automated - Errors (sometimes hilarious!) can creep in! ;)

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While young people are fond of social networks and use them as their main source of information, it may be wise to help them develop a new skill: that of verifying the origin of the images and videos they see online.

In these times when information circulates rapidly on social networks, it is even more important to verify the origin of images and videos that are circulating. It is possible to use simple digital tools to perform a verification in a few seconds, in addition to a few reflexes to develop.

The images and videos that circulate online come from a multitude of different news sources, sometimes from new sources that we didn't know about just a few weeks ago. It's easy for users to click "Like" or share an image or video that looks real, when it's not.

For example, in recent weeks we have learned that images or videos shared on social networks, identified as testimonies of the war in Ukraine, turned out to have been captured several days or years ago, in a completely different context or even a completely different place than the one identified in the publication.

  1. Doubt First and foremost, young people need to be reminded that an image or video is not evidence in itself. It may have been altered or taken out of its original context to stir up emotion or misinterpretation. The number of shares or views on a post is also not a sign of reliability.
  2. Check the source It is a good idea to check who shared the information and even to look at the comments under the publication, which can give clues to its credibility and validity.
  3. Check the origin of the images From the tool Google ImagesYou can enter the URL of an image or import the image itself (previously saved on your device).

The tool allows you to: 

  • validate the date of an image;
  • compare the different sources that can refer to an image;
  • identify the first share of an image.

The tool allows to go up in the Google search results, to obtain clues of origin and date of the first publication of an image and to compare the different sites on which it was published. The team of theeduLAB in Belgium produced a tutorial which presents the process step by step.

It is also possible to search with Google Lens directly from the Chrome browser. Alexandra Coutlée from the technopedagogical team of the Centre de services scolaires de Laval has produced a tutorial to explain how to do it.

Beware of hypertrucage (deepfake)

Just as images can be altered (to remove, change or add elements), so too can videos circulating on the web contain misinformation - yes, it is more difficult to verify the exact source of a video, so be even more vigilant for visual clues that could indicate use out of context.

Another phenomenonthe one of hypertrucage (deepfake), also brings other issues for Internet users. This process consists in superimposing audio files on video files or even modifying the image of an already existing video and then passing this new video as authentic.  

Thus, in recent weeks, a video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been withdrawn by Facebook because it had been identified as hypertrucage (see also Radio-Canada's explanation on Instagram).

In all cases, therefore, it is necessary to maintain doubt about the images conveyed on the Web and to concentrate on official sources of information. On the other hand, in case of doubt or without clear verification, it is perhaps better not to share...

To (re) read on the École branchée:

For further :

On the theme of the war in Ukraine specifically:


Dimension (s) of digital competence related to this article
4- Develop and mobilize your information culture

To see the Framework.

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About the Author

Martine Rioux
Martine Rioux
After studying public communication, Martine worked as a journalist for various publications, before pursuing her career as an interactive communications consultant at La Capitale, a financial group, then at Québec Numérique, an organization she took over as general manager before making the jump. as political advisor in the office of the Minister for Digital Government Transformation. Today she is the online Editor-in-Chief and Special Projects Manager at l'École branchée. Her dream: that everyone has access to technology and can use it as a tool for learning and opening up to the world.

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