Tips from BBC Pro on Verifying Photos

We’re getting a lot of snow, even blizzard conditions, in Central New York and I wonder if bogus snow pictures will find their way around the Internet.

In the new Verification Handbook (a definitive guide to verifying digital content for emergency coverage)Trushar Barot, from BBC, offers many good tips for how to check the accuracy of photos.  

He says BBC uses a 4-point checklist, which makes good sense to me:

  1. Establish the author or originator of the image
  2. Corroborate the location, date and approximate time the image was taken.
  3. Confirm the image is what it is labeled or suggested to be showing.
  4. Obtain permission from the author or originator to use the image.

Other tips from Barot that I found helpful:

  • Sources usually talk in descriptive terms about where they are and what they see. If the person is vague, be skeptical.
  • Ask the photographer to send additional images. This helps you verify as well as get a sense of how the event rolled out.
  • While many people suggest you look at the  metadata, or Exif data, from the photo (make/model of camera and time stamp), he said, which I didn’t know, that  Instagram,  Facebook and Twitter  strip out the metadata.
  • Use Google Translate to read signs in languages you don’t understand.

The Verification Handbook is well worth reading — and do it now, before a disaster or emergency when you need to authenticate something quickly.

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