False news has been identified!


In order to train our readers to recognize misinformation and false information, we published a picture riddle on Monday. Today we are publishing the solution.

Original assignment:

Find this posting in Social media:

Published on December 24, 2017

„What the heck! It looks like NATO soldiers are starving! I just went to a store in Tapa and took a picture of how Americans are stealing drinks and food. Warn everybody, that there are NATO occupier rats and marauders out and about!!! “

The posting had the following picture with it.

Can you prove by analyzing the text and picture that we are dealing with false reporting?


The correct answer

According to Propastop, it is possible to detect the fake news based on at least four items.

1. The situation depicted in the picture

Although the accompanying text claims that the soldiers in the picture are shoplifting, there is not any stealing apparent in the picture. On the contrary, one of the soldiers has a wallet out in his hand, indicating that he intends to pay for the purchases. Therefore, the picture does not confirm the claims of the text.

2. The details depicted in the picture

The text „do 48% taniej“ is displayed in the foreground. By entering the text into the Google Translate website, we get the answer that the sentence is in Polish and means „ up to a 48% discount.“ The likelihood that a store in Tapa would have a display in Polish is very small. In addition, the display of a BP logo indicates that the store in question is not located in Estonia – we do not have this company’s gas stations.

The first two signs however do not give us absolute proof that we are dealing with false statements, but they do cast a doubt on the credibility of the whole story.

3. Picture dating

Looking at the image metadata it can be seen that the image was digitized on December 10, 2017. Consequently, there is no way that the picture was taken on December 24, as the text says.

The fact that the picture was photo shopped on December 14th is probable cause for suspicion, that it is not an image taken by a camera or a mobile phone as the text suggests.

How can you view the metadata of an image? One way is to save the image on your computer, open it using image-editing software and view the file information. Metadata can also be viewed on the imageforensic.org website.

4. The final proof is given by using an image search program

Enter the photo’s address into an image search program, such as images.google.com or Tineye.com. The search engine shows that the same photo was originally published on June 2016 in Vice News and represents US and British soldiers in Poland.

These four details prove that this photo does not represent what is stated in the text and in all probability; the text accompanying the image is not true either. To investigate it, you should contact the person who posted the notice and look into the posting’s guaranty. However, before receiving independent confirmation, the notice can already be considered false and fake news.

Propastop apologizes to Vice News and the photographer Lucian Kim, whose work we used, without permission in this educational posting.

Many thanks to the large number of readers who thought about it and offered their own versions on Facebook. Propastop’s favourite was the commentator who said that on December 24, there is no way that the sunshine would be that bright in Tapa.