In an era where fake news travels faster than true stories, there is a need to verify data that comes your way. These days social media platforms are full of posts that begin with the text “Watch the viral video of…”. But often these videos and images are shared with misleading content and are usually unrelated to the current event.
— Rajesh Nain 3.0 𝕩 (@RajeshNain) July 11, 2023
The video was originally from Italy.
To verify such claims, one needs to ask, ‘where is this from exactly?’. But, how do you verify the location of a photo or video? The answer is simple — using Google Maps. Google Maps not only gives directions but also offers satellite imagery, aerial photography, street maps, 360° interactive panoramic views of streets (Street View), real-time traffic conditions, and route planning for traveling by foot, car, bike, air (in beta) and public transportation.
Several countries including India have 360° interactive panoramic views of streets (Street View). When you explore a place using Street View, a small yellow icon in the shape of a human, called ‘Pegman’, appears on the bottom right corner of Google Maps. Just drag and drop the Pegman anywhere on the map and you will get a view of that place.
Now let us understand this process of verification using geolocation through an example.
Recently, during the communal violence in Haryana’s Nuh district, a video showing people wearing skull caps and pelting stones at a bus was being shared on the internet as the video of the clashes in the state. However, the video is from 2019, and is from Gujarat.
इनके लिए, हमने कल टैक्स रिटर्न फाइल कर दिए pic.twitter.com/bVsj2Nbloh
— Raja Singh (@TigerRajaSingh) August 2, 2023
So how do you verify the authenticity of such videos? The first step is using Google reverse image search. When we used reverse image search for the above video, it showed results which established that the video was old and from Gujarat. Now we needed to check the exact location of the incident.
So, the next step was to find out the exact location of the incident. A report said, “As they reached Nanpura Makkai pul circle police were present to stop them due to lack of permission.” We now had a location — Nanpura Makkai pul circle — that became the search term in Google Maps. This led us to the exact location of the video.
Here’s how you can compare images:
Screenshot from viral video:
Image taken from Google Maps:
Pro tip to verify location:
While using maps, always pay close attention to street layouts, statues and monuments, architectural details, street signs and shopfronts.
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