GSAN: Dr. No, that sign isn’t real


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Dr. No, that sign isn't real


Viral rumor rundown

Dr. No? Image of Oz campaign sign was altered

A tweet reads, “Brilliant” and features a photo of Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz with a group of people, one of whom holds a sideways campaign sign that appears to display “Oz” as “No” at a diner. The News Literacy Project has added a label that says, “ALTERED IMAGE.”

NO: This is not a genuine photograph of a woman holding a “Dr. Oz” campaign sign sideways, making the “OZ” display as “NO.” YES: The sign in the original photo was held right-side up, and the viral version was digitally altered.

Two nearly identical photos of Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz standing with a group of people, one of whom is holding a sign. In the photo at left, the sign is turned sideways so that 'Oz' reads as 'No.' The News Literacy Project has added a red X to that photo. In the photo at right, the sign is held right-side up and reads correctly. The News Literacy Project has added a green check mark to that photo.
A side-by-side comparison showing the doctored version of this photo (left) next to the authentic photo (right).

NewsLit takeaway: Simple manipulations are often the most convincing. One reason that this photograph of a sideways campaign sign appears genuine is because it is so plausible. This photo appears to show a woman making a simple and reasonable mistake – holding a sign turned the wrong direction. Since the doctored image plays into political messaging disparaging Oz as a candidate, it is easy to see why so many people accepted this image as authentic.

This photograph, however, is doctored. Fact-checkers from The Associated Press spoke to the woman holding the sign during Oz’s campaign stop at the Capitol Diner in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and verified that she was holding the sign the correct way when the photo was snapped. Reporters with AFP Fact Check spoke to Oz’s senior communications advisor, who took the photograph, confirming the viral photo had been altered. Social media users, especially Pennsylvania voters, should also be aware that BBC News found one other instance of an “OZ” sign being altered so that it read “NO.”

Social media users could have also deduced this was a fake photo by verifying the authenticity with an official or standards-based source. The image of the altered sign was shared by numerous accounts that weren’t affiliated with Oz’s campaign, news organizations or firsthand witnesses. The original photo was posted on Oz’s social media feeds and shows the sign displayed with “OZ” in the correct position.

Doctored images are an efficient and powerful tool to convey political messages and manipulate emotions. Just because an image feels true to you doesn’t mean that it is.

Thanks for reading!

Your weekly issue of Get Smart About News is created by Peter Adams (@PeterD_Adams), Hannah Covington (@HannahCov), Pamela Brunskill (@PamelaBrunskill) and Dan Evon (@danieljevon) and edited by Mary Kane (@marykkane) and Lourdes Venard (@lourdesvenard).

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