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We aren’t always sitting in front of a computer when we see photos that ring alarm bells. Maybe the photo makes you joyful, angry or sad, and the caption says you should share it far and wide. But the story might be too good to be true, and you’re right to want to double-check. Here’s how you can verify and trace a photo back to its origin using only your smartphone.
If you have a computer handy and want to verify an image that way, check out this guide.
You can find many useful apps to verify images in the Google Play Store (for Android) or the Apple Store (for iPhone). Check out some examples by clicking here or here.
Take a closer look in the video below at how we were able to find the origin – in less than 30 seconds – of a photo supposedly showing terrorists arrested in Mali.
We’ll walk you through how to verify an image using another example. Take this photo showing a woman threatening a police officer who is aiming a pistol at a man on the ground. The caption says that the photo shows a woman in the Dominican Republic protecting her son from a police officer. The story is touching and the photo is powerful – high-quality and well-framed (perhaps too well-framed). Which makes us a bit suspicious.
To verify the photo, start by downloading the app of your choice by searching for the keywords “reverse image search” in the Google Play Store, Apple Store or online app store of your choice.
Once you have the app open on your phone, you can then select the image in question from your image gallery.
Then, upload the photo to the search engine of your choice. Here, Yandex was able to immediately identify the photo in question: it is a screengrab of a scene from the 2013 film “Christo Rey”.
Google Lens, a good tool for quick verification
One of the best applications for carrying out a reverse image search on a smartphone is Google Lens. The application allows you to easily crop a photo and search for just a specific section of it – for example, a building in the background.
Google Lens often brings up more interesting results than simple reverse image searches via Google Images.
Check out an example of how we used Google Lens with an image of US First Lady Jill Biden in the episode of Truth or Fake below.
How can I verify a video using my phone?
For the time being, there aren’t reliable applications that make it possible to verify a video from your phone.
If you want to learn more about how to verify a video, check out our tutorial. However, you will need a computer to conduct these searches.