Road Trip

I like showing people how to debunk viral photos for a couple reasons. First, it requires small enough action that it can easily become a habit. You don’t need to do a lot of research or have a lot of knowledge.

Second, it shows how technological affordance (in this case Google Chrome’s right-click “Search by Image” function) works to create culture. We need to make you curious about the photos you see. But that’s a whole lot easier if the technology makes checking things two steps instead of eighteen.

Finally, it’s fun.

In any case, the photo of the day:


So this is part of the whole “Bikers for Trump” meme. Bikers are supposedly coming by the hundreds of thousands to provide “security” for the inauguration.

I’ll leave the larger issues of this fascination with biker-based security aside and ask a simpler question. Is this a picture of bikers headed to the 2017 inauguration?

The answer? No. And it takes about 30 seconds to find out.

First, right-click or Control-Click on the image and select search Google for image:


The Google search — for reasons known only to Google — will assume that the best name for this image is “Jesus”. Change it to “bikers”


Change the date (using the “tools” button) to end in 2016. If we find that this picture existed in 2016 it’s pretty clear it isn’t people headed to the inauguration in 2017. Let’s look at what we get:



While these are technically the dates that the pages that contain the photo were published (not the publication date of the photo), the results are probably good enough for us to doubt the photo.  We can be done here, in 30 seconds.

If you take about 30 seconds more you can do even better. On the second page of results we find a page from 2009:


We have Google translate that page, and find the image there posted on a Czech forum in 2013. In the process we see that this is a photo that has been used by a number of biker groups, but is still relatively rare, and the earliest posting was from a Czech forum.

So no, this is not a picture of Bikers for Trump.






3 thoughts on “Road Trip

  1. Great post. Now I’m wondering how to achieve the same simple Google search of an image using Firefox on a Mac.

    • This is a great question.

      First, there is a drag and drop option you can use if you keep a tab open to google image.

      Secondly, I’m hoping to work with Jon Udell on a Firefox extension eventually that does this.

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