Fact-Checking Digital Manipulation

For this week’s blog post, I decided to write about the altered photo of two men with a pride flag.  

The altered photo depicts two men in leather harnesses waving a pride flag, with a small child in between the two men and another kid sitting on the shoulders of the man on the left. The altered photo was used to spread homophobia and untrue notions about the LGBTQ+ community.  

Reuters did a reverse image search on the photograph and noticed that the original photograph was taken in 2012. It was used as the cover of a French magazine condemning gay marriage. 

In the original photograph, there were no children. Reuters ultimately concluded that the photo had been digitally altered to include the children to make the photo seem offensive. 

The Observers, a French media site, did a thorough analysis of not only the photograph in question but of similar digitally altered photographs. They used reverse image search technology to find the original photo and compared it with the digitally altered version.  

The media site used the five principles for media creators to be a creditable source. They used thoroughness by doing research on each photograph. They utilized accuracy by telling each photo’s story and its purpose honestly. They executed fairness by asking questions about each photo and being fair to all involved. 

They presented their analysis without any preconceived biases about gay marriage or gay pride. The media site was also transparent by providing resources consumers could use to find digitally altered photographs. 

The media site India Today provided a factual report on the photo in question. They used a reverse image search to find the original photo.

They even went a step further and looked at Google maps to pinpoint the exact location and a rough estimate of when the original photo was taken. The site concluded, as many others have, that photo has been digitally altered to depict two kids in the photograph. 

India Today used the five principles for media creation in order to be creditable. They used thoroughness by doing intense research on the photograph. They utilized accuracy by explaining the story behind both the original photo and the digitally altered version. They used fairness by being fair to all involved and not blaming one person or party for the digital manipulation. 

The media site presented the facts without any pre-convienced biases about gay relationships. They also used transparency by citing the claim, and its fact-checked version, to tell the truth about the photo.

In doing so, these media sites exposed misleading and false depictions to make citizens better informed about media manipulation.

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