TinEye: Reverse image search

27 November 2013


Pictures are often used by journalists to convey key aspects of a story and, with the help of TinEye, they can be sure that the images they use are verified and copyright attributed.

In essence, TinEye is a reverse search engine for images. Users can upload an image from their hard drive, or search its URL, and TinEye will retrieve any image that matches its ‘digital fingerprint’. Unlike traditional search engines, TinEye does not search via image name or SEO keywords. Instead, like a fingerprint database search, it retrieves images that match the pixel display.

By unearthing similar images, TinEye is a useful tool for journalists to verify user-generated content. During disasters, in particular, social media channels are often overrun with pictures and it can be difficult for journalists to differentiate the real from the fake. For example, when newsrooms used TinEye during Hurricane Sandy many images were found out to be photoshopped versions of stock images or photos from other disasters.

TinEye can also help journalists uphold copyright protocols. As many versions of an image can be found, it is possible to track down the original copyright owner of a picture and attain permission for use. Similarly, it is a useful tool for photojournalists to track usage of their photos on the internet and ensure that other users are not infringing their copyright.

To conduct a TinEye search you can visit their website here. Browser extensions are also available for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer.

For more information, take a look at the video below: