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Google Images will start telling you if photos were manipulated

Google
(Image credit: Google)

Google just added a fact-checking feature for Google Images, which lets users verify the legitimacy of images if they see a Fact Check label on it.

"Photos and videos are an incredible way to help people understand what’s going on in the world," Group Product Manager Harris Cohen wrote in a release. "But the power of visual media has its pitfalls ⁠— especially when there are questions surrounding the origin, authenticity or context of an image."

Here's what to look out for

When you go to click on an image in Google Images, you'll see a "Fact Check" label under the thumbnail of the image. I've yet to see it on my phone or my desktop, so it's unclear when this will show up. I even googled the very same image in the example photo Google posted -- no fact check label.

Apparently, the labels appear on results from independent sources that meet Google's "criteria". These sources use ClaimReview in order to indicate fact-checked content to search engines.

"We already highlight fact checks on Search and in Google News to make this content easy to discover," Cohen wrote. "YouTube also leverages ClaimReview to surface fact check information panels in Brazil, India and the U.S. The full fact check library can be accessed through a dedicated search tool and an open API."

In April, the Google News Initiative provided $6.5 million in funding to support organizations that are fact-checking during the pandemic, so it's not surprising that the company is taking further steps to enforce fact-checking.

So, what about images that aren't fact-checked? Will they simply be blank? Or will they actually say "Not fact checked." The former would be harder to enforce, while the latter would push this initiative forward. After all, no one wants their image to say "Not fact checked."