Audiences for this week’s “Black Panther” premiere went all-out in celebration, and the film’s opening weekend is expected to break records at the box office.
Unfortunately, the superhero movie, which boasts an almost entirely black cast and has been hailed for its positive representation of black people and African culture, has also brought the racist trolls out of the woodwork.
Since Thursday, numerous false reports have bubbled up on social media claiming that white viewers were physically attacked by black fans at showings of the movie. Twitter and Facebook users have been taking images from unrelated incidents and reposting them, falsely claiming that they are photos of themselves or loved ones after racially motivated attacks.
In one example, a Twitter user posted a photo showing the blood-covered face of a teenager who had been assaulted at a nightclub in Sweden last month, fact-checking website Snopes reports. The Twitter user, whose account has since been suspended, wrote, “i went to see #BlackPanther with my gf and a black teenager shouted ‘u at the wrong theater’ and smashed a bottle on her face.”
Another widely circulated tweet showed a photo of a bloody paper towel. The caption claimed that “a group of black youths said this movie wasn’t for me. I am white.” However, a reverse Google image search indicates that the image was simply one of the top results for the search phrase “blood on paper towel.”
Other stolen and repurposed photos included an image of former White House aide Rob Porter’s ex-wife Colbie Holderness with a black eye and a screenshot from a Serbian anti-domestic violence campaign.
As The Independent points out, some people are now parodying the false reports with their own more obviously fake tweets about being attacked — some using pictures of the character Glenn from “The Walking Dead.”
In multiple cases, people lying about attacks have been easily exposed by tools like reverse image searches, which can reveal whether a particular picture has appeared online before and in what context. You can conduct a reverse image search on Google Images by uploading an image there, dragging and dropping an image into the search bar, pasting an image URL in the search bar, or right-clicking on a photo and selecting “search Google for image,” depending on what internet browser you’re using.
Another good resource is TinEye, which lets you upload an image to determine where it first appeared online and how the image may or may not have been modified from the original.
Language has been added to note the multiple ways reverse image search works on Google, depending on what browser you’re using.