One wrong impression people have of how fact-checkers go about verifying photos is that they start with a pixel-level analysis, looking for signs of alteration. And sure, sometimes it comes to that.
The first and easiest check, however is to see if there are earlier photos on the web from which the photo was made. Sometimes you can do that by reverse image searching either the photo or a portion of the photo — e.g. crop out the Cobain or Notorius B.I.G. half and search on that. But we're about the quick checks here, so we're going to just do a Google Image search for the phrase
kurt cobain in car biggie.
When we scan the photos we're looking for a potentially earlier photograph. And since it's far more likely that Notorious B.I.G was added to the photo than removed we're going to guess the photo to look at is this one:
We click through and find the original photo with some commentary on the fake one:
So that's photo one. And that's really enough to debunk this thing. But let's find the other one too. For some reason our initial search isn't working, so we STOP (remember that move?) and reformulate it to be a bit simpler:
biggie notorious cobain.
Once we do that, we find the original Notorious B.I.G photo too.
One of the reasons we've developed the moves the way that we have is to make sure that the actions you take can be useful no matter what the underlying story is. Consider this photo:
Photo is titled "life of a national geographic photographer" as the photographer stands on cooling lava with his camera stand and sneakers on fire.
We could spend a whole lot of time trying to figure out whether that fire has been photoshopped on or not. But instead we try to find the original — and particularly the original context in which it appeared.
In this case we do a right-click reverse image search (available in Chrome desktop). But we could just as easily search on
photographer shoes fire lava. In either case, we find a bunch of pages that contain the photo, from a variety of sites. One of the sites returned is Reddit. Reddit is a site that is famous for sharing these sorts of photos, but it also has a reputation for having a user base that is very good at spotting fake photos.
When we go to the Reddit page we find there is an argument there over whether the photo is fake or not. It's no help — we need to go further upstream. Reddit has the link to the original article the photo appeared in so we head there: