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A photo was circulating on social media this past weekend with the recent passing of Queen Elizabeth II. The image is of Meghan Markle dressed similarly to Princess Diana at what's believed to be Queen Elizabeth's funeral. If you're like me, you may stay up to date but do not closely follow the Royal Family, so I immediately believed the image was true.
Why is this bad? Any false information can be damaging if we're trying to work towards being responsible internet users. An image like this can cause a lot of hate for Meghan Markle, negatively impacting how the public perceives her. This has already been an ongoing issue. Although this may not personally affect us, the idea of allowing and accepting misinformation as it is without further evaluation if the information is factual is the problem we need to work on.
Seeing this Fact Check on Reuters caught my attention because this is something I saw and believed, so I was curious to know if it was factual.
Reuters uses various processes to evaluate whether something is factual or not. One approach is to build the context around the story. The claim is that the image was taken at the Queen's funeral, but this is impossible if the funeral has not occurred. This article by Reuters says that the Queen's funeral is scheduled for Monday, September 19. This NPR article lays out the ten days after Queen Elizabeth's death, confirming that the funeral is scheduled for September 19. So if this is the case, we know that Meghan Markle did not wear this outfit to the funeral. But was this photo taken anytime recently?
Another essential tool in correcting this misinformation is locating the primary source. For this tool, you could identify the first person to post or share the image, which can honestly take a while as this had become an image that multiple people shared, but because these are both very public people, we can look at the pictures for further information. A fact about photos is that they have metadata. Each photo file provides information that includes the date, time, location, and more details of each particular shot. Uploading these photos to a specific website like Flickr, for example, will automatically provide the metadata. The picture of Meghan Markle is shown here on Alamy, a stock photo website. The same image of Meghan Markle was found to be taken on Remembrance Sunday Memorial on November 10, 2019. Misbar, an Arab fact-checking website, also looked into this post and used the reverse image search to find when the original image was taken. So, this post was misinformation.
This photo could have been posted with the intention of being a joke, but unfortunately, when we post online, we make what we post open to interpretation. As the photo spreads, the initial intention can be quickly lost, allowing people to begin to criticize Meghan Markle further and leave comments on an image that is not even factual.
Although this was an easy example of fact-checking, and a quick search proved that this was a misleading post, there are many cases where it won't be as simple. This is why we need to take our time to do our research before believing everything we read and hear.