It’s easy to learn how to research images you see online, and it’s a very good policy if you want to maintain your credibility as an activist. 

Sometimes social media makes me shake my head in despair.

Just this past couple of weeks, I’ve seen multiple images earnestly shared by friends that have proven to be fakes. There’s a certain amount of this to be expected from social media platforms. Many people see something that agrees with their viewpoint, or seems to support their own ideas, and they hit that share button, regardless of the authenticity of the item. After all, it takes time and effort to track down the origin of an image; it’s easier to pull a hit-and-run, and worry about the truth later, if at all.

For the casually politically active person, that’s not a huge deal. Those types of people aren’t really trying to change the world or fight for a cause. It’s more likely that they are trying to put down a marker; to identify with one cause or another, to show support for one side of an argument or another. They are broadcasting to their audience their allegiances, but they aren’t necessarily using their platforms to evangelize for a cause.

For the engaged activist, however, the stakes are much higher. Share too many unconfirmed stories or fake images, and your reputation takes a hit; and once lost, that credibility is almost impossible to get back. People stop taking you seriously, and begin to tune you out, and you lose influence rapidly. But who has time to track down all these things on the internet?

You do, at least, you do if you care about your credibility. Is your reputation worth five minutes’ delay in posting something you thought was clever, funny, or important? If you care about influencing people and standing for truth and fighting against fake news, you’d better believe it’s worth it.

You don’t have to be one of those internet savants, either, to spend a couple of minutes tracking down the origin of an image. I created a video to walk you through it, and once you learn how to search images for yourself, you can check things quickly and easily, and find links that can debunk the fakes.

As I explain in the video, getting to the truth of an image’s origin really does matter. People may be ignorantly spreading things they think are true, or they may be deliberately trying to stir up anger, or profit off of other people’s outrage.

Try it for yourself. See if you can figure out the truth about these two images:

With a little practice, you’ll be able to debunk bad information, and help prevent others from falling for hoaxes, fakes, and lies. And that will help bolster your credibility at a time when it’s getting harder to know whom you can trust.

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