How to spot fake posts and media as you follow the Israel-Hamas war

As the Israel-Hamas war continues, there has been a growing number of reports of disinformation appearing online, on websites and social media. And in this new age of deepfake videos, AI-manipulated content and overall fictitious posts, more care should be taken when consuming information.

“It’s really hard for somebody to just look at their feed, and then just trust that everything’s true,” said digital expert Kim Komando.

Her first piece of advice is to see if stories exist on other websites. One way to do that is to use Google to search for the headline of the piece you are reading. She also said the headline itself can sometimes tell you a lot.

“If you see a story and it has that big clickbait headline, it’s probably fake,” Komando said.

With pictures, Komando recommends downloading the images in question and uploading them to Google or Tin Eye to do a reverse image search. It will search for the picture and show you where the image came from and how it’s been used online.

“Nine times out of 10, you’ll be able to figure out whether or not it’s true or fake by just all the different sites that it may be used for,” Komando said.

For videos and images, she said there are online tutorials and services that help you see hidden information about media files. This includes Meta and EXIF data — which can also tell you more about the file.

“You may find that some of the videos that are popping up now were actually taken in May, and they were also taken last November,” she said.

Now, while these tips can help you, there is no guarantee it will help you find definitive proof of a media file’s authenticity.

“At the end of the day, you really have to trust your gut. And say, ‘is this really something that is true? It doesn’t feel right, does it look right?'” Komando said.

Komando also urges you to be a “good digital citizen” and report posts and media files that you believe are fake.

“All these social media platforms also give you buttons where you can report a particular post as maybe being ‘too graphic’ or being ‘fake,'” Komando said.

Beyond being concerned with a video or image’s authenticity, Komando said you may also not want to see violent content in your newsfeed. For people who want to restrict that type of media, under the privacy and settings menus on most social media sites, you should have the ability to restrict that type of content.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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