April 8, 2022

For the past few weeks, we’ve watched the crisis in Ukraine unfold on social media. But misinformation follows a crisis. We’re seeing a ton of false or out-of-context photos and videos going viral online, claiming to show what’s really happening in Ukraine. 

Here are three methods you can use to fact-check these types of posts, both on desktop and mobile.

Try a reverse image search with TinEye

This viral Facebook post claims to show Russian planes flying over Ukraine. To fact-check this, we took a screenshot from the video and went over to TinEye. TinEye is a reverse image search tool that also gives you the option to search by best match, most changed or oldest to newest — which can be a great way to determine if something is outdated.

And one of the results from TinEye was this YouTube video from 2020. 

Turns out this video is two years old, and while it does show Russian planes, these planes aren’t flying over Ukraine.  

RELATED: How memes are used to spread misinformation

Try a Google reverse image search

This video went viral on Twitter, claiming to show a Ukrainian fighter jet shooting down a Russian fighter jet. Taking a screenshot and uploading it to images.google.com will let you know where else this video lives online. 

And one good thing about Google’s reverse image search function is that it will also give you some possible related search terms to help you out. Google suggested the term “ghost of kiev.”

Doing a keyword search with “ghost of kiev” along with the words “video” and “fact-check” brought up a ton of results.

According to USA Today, this clip is actually from a video game ― not the crisis in Ukraine. 

Do a reverse image search on mobile

Chances are, you’re using your phone when you come across these types of claims on social media. It is easy to do a reverse image search on mobile using the Google Chrome app.

This tweet went viral across platforms, with social media users claiming that it shows a young Ukrainian girl confronting a Russian soldier. 

Using the Google Chrome app, hold down on the video and you will get the pop-up to “Search Google for This Image.” 

One of the many results was this BBC roundup of false claims about Ukraine. In reality, this video shows an 11-year-old Palestinian girl confronting an Israeli soldier. But not only that, this video is from 2012 ― 10 years ago.

Bonus tip: Keep a lookout for disclaimers

You’re probably going to see a lot of disclaimers on social media alerting you that what you’re seeing on your timeline is false or misleading. These warnings are there to help you, and mean that the claim has been looked into and fact-checked by independent fact-checkers.

But while fact-checkers and journalists are working overtime to debunk the misinformation about the war in Ukraine, not every piece of misinformation will get one of these fact-check boxes. It’s important to remember that just because there isn’t a warning, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s factual. You should still look into it before sharing.

During a crisis like the one that is taking place in Ukraine, videos, images, and other forms of media can be used to manipulate your understanding or opinion of an issue, which is why it’s so important to stay skeptical. The people in Ukraine, and Russians who are sympathetic, are also looking to social media to stay informed and up to date, and flooding social media with false information even if it’s well-intentioned is not helpful. 

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