History of a Fake BBC News 24 "Breaking News" image

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
This image popped up on social media this week:



With the Israeli flag in the background, and the facetious crawl text "Israeli soldier twists ankle in Gaza" it should be fairly obvious that it's just satire aimed at characterizing the BBC coverage of Gaza as being very one sided.

Some people, unfortunately, will take such an image at face value. So it's still worth pointing out how fake it is. And with all fake images the best way of demonstrating it's a fake is to find the original image. It appears to be from a real BBC broadcast, with Chris Eakin, but from when?

The first step here is Google Image Search. You can just go to http://google.images.com, and drag the image in, or just right click in Chrome, and click on "Search Google For this Image":


The first thing this shows up is a fictitious news story from 2011-08-07:
http://www.thepoke.co.uk/2011/08/17/bbc-sign-language-interpreter-sacked-for-changing-the-news/

Note this time the text of the crawl is about the 2011 Japan Earthquake.

While this is more than sufficient to prove that the Gaza image is fake, it still does not show us the source of the original image. Google is not much more help, so the next step is to drag the image into http://tineye.com

This gives us 38 results which can be sorted in a variety of ways:


Sorting by "Oldest", we get another, more obvious, fake, dating back to 2008.


Changing the sorting to "Biggest image" we first get the images from the satirical news story, but then we get what looks most like an original image:
http://www.trendingcentral.com/new-report-statistically-proves-bbc-bias/


But then right after that, there's another obvious fake from Dec 2012
http://www.awamipolitics.com/mqm-london-secretariat-raided-by-scotland-yard-10715.html


So it looks like it was pre 2008, based on the oldest Tineye result. Another clue is the phone number at the bottom: 7888 100 100. A quick google shows that this was a number the BBC used in 2006 for 3G specific texting of photos (MMS). The number was not used after 2006 as by 2007 there was no need for as separate number for 3G texts. And the usage of the number seems limited to only 2006.

Then there's the text "inquest jury returns an open verdict" - which crops up in news stories a lot, but in 2006 only referred to the inquest into the death of soldiers at Deepcut. That would put the image as being from March 9 2006, when the verdict came out.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
And here's an example of how easy it is to fake such a thing:


Arial bold font, and a little blur, and it's basically undetectable.

Notice that "IMRAN FURUQ" fake, above, is not very good, as they did not apply a blur.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
I think people don't understand how much stuff on the internet is being faked, simply for the lulz or to attract traffic.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Tip for spotting fake objects in images. Look for a "fringe" on the edge of objects. Often when an object has been hastily pasted in, the edges have not been well cleaned up, and you get some bright or dark pixels that look at bit out of place. This is most apparent when something from a light background gets pasted onto a dark background, as it's very hard to fix the pixels where the color has blended.
 

Jason

Senior Member
Wow, great job Mick. You have an eye for these things. I probably would've fallen for it to be honest with you guys, but wouldn't have given it much attention. How did you find the Israeli flag? Did you search archives, or is there a way for us to search an individual item within a picture. Sort of how you use the right click over the image to search for the image. Is there a way to select part of an image to search for that specific item?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Wow, great job Mick. You have an eye for these things. I probably would've fallen for it to be honest with you guys, but wouldn't have given it much attention. How did you find the Israeli flag? Did you search archives, or is there a way for us to search an individual item within a picture. Sort of how you use the right click over the image to search for the image. Is there a way to select part of an image to search for that specific item?

I did it mostly as an educational exercise - I think it's useful to document how to debunk things like this.

To find the flag, I simply did a google image search for "Israeli Flag pole". My thinking there is that is what a faker would do when they were lookin

 

Jason

Senior Member
To find the flag, I simply did a google image search for "Israeli Flag pole". My thinking there is that is what a faker would do when they were lookin
Thanks, Got it, but is there a way to search out a particular item within a photo. Lets say you have a photo with several individuals in it, and you don't want to search the entire photo, just one individual in it. Do we have the ability to search that way using chrome or any other venue?
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Thanks, Got it, but is there a way to search out a particular item within a photo. Lets say you have a photo with several individuals in it, and you don't want to search the entire photo, just one individual in it. Do we have the ability to search that way using chrome or any other venue?
Depends how big it is.
 
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