Rumor Review

Doctored images can fool and mislead us

Example of a doctored image

In this age of digital manipulation, you can’t always believe your eyes. The image above is a good example. It circulated on Twitter in mid-September 2019. The image shows a group of women wearing T-shirts with the words “I’m a racist [expletive] 2020.”

Uh, not quite: The women were actually wearing T-shirts with the words “I’m a Trump girl 2020.” The original photo was shared on social media following President Donald Trump’s rally in Greenville, North Carolina, in July.

The words on the T-shirts were digitally altered, and the false image was posted to Twitter. (You can see the doctored image and the original here. You can view a larger version of this image, which includes the profanity, here.)

Messing with messages

This is just one example of a frequent misinformation tactic. It is extremely common for photo manipulators to target T-shirt messages. Before you like or share an image, confirm its veracity by doing a reverse image search using tools from Google and TinEye.  You can also use Snopes or other fact-checking sites.

This example also illustrates how misinformation that targets strong emotions and controversies can cause people to accept — or even rationalize — their initial perceptions when a claim upholds a personal conviction or accepted truth.

If you discover content that has been manipulated or falsified, be sure to call it out as misinformation and prevent others from being misled.