Out-of-context images lead to misinformation

Who is responsible for minimizing the phenomenon of out-of-context imagery?

We scroll and we scroll, looking for the information we need to go about our daily lives. In most cases, this is probably mindless consumption of memes, videos and inspirational quotes. But when a crisis strikes, we go online for knowledge of the situation.

However, we can’t believe everything we see.

Even though photos tend to increase our belief in what is happening, they can be fabricated or taken completely out of context.

When Iran launched ballistic missiles at military bases in Iraq, where U.S. troops are housed, many false photographs and videos appeared on social media.

It is important to use a critical eye, especially if you’re using social media as your primary mode of consuming news. Many of these photos were taken years ago in completely different situations. Even news organizations are at fault for spreading at least one of the out-of-context images.

When these photos are shared, it creates a heightened sense of controversy and a belief in what is untrue. If this continues, the lack of trust that already exists toward media will continue to grow.

If you are ever in doubt of an image’s authenticity, a simple Google search could show if it has been used before. It is especially important to do this before you share a photo because you want to make sure you are spreading accurate information.

Sometimes it is up to us to take responsibility for confirming the context of photos and videos, but platforms like Facebook and Twitter can make it easier for people to be aware of the truth.

Facebook has initiated a deepfake ban, but some argue the rules are vague and won’t do much to prevent the misinformation spread through out-of-context images.

If Facebook can implement these bans, then it could probably include disclaimers on images and videos that are not being used in the right context. 

Everyone is responsible to minimize the spread of misinformation.

Published by aschmelzer

I am a journalism student at Bradley University, and I work for the campus newspaper, The Scout. Traveling and writing are my two passions, so I hope to combine those loves into one job once I graduate.

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