14 Filtering by Time and Place to Find the Original

Finding the source of content is often a journey through time and space. The original story is also the first story, and as we saw with the Hawaiian news site, local sources often have special insights into stories.

There are specific functions you can use with Google and other search engines to help you find original material more quickly.

The following is an image that Twitter users have identified as another National Geographic photograph. But is it?

A photo Twitter users attributed to National Geographic, which depicts what appears to be a photographer being attacked by a bird.


A Google reverse image search finds the photo, suggesting that the best search term is “birds attacking people.”

A Google reverse image search result that suggests the best search term to find our original source is “birds attacking people.”

This suggestion is based on the fact that the pages where this photo appears often contain these words: “birds attacking people.”

A list of pages including images that match the reverse searched image. The first webpage is titled, “Dangerous Birds – Top 10 Birds That Could Kick Your Ass.” All of the pages appear to discuss bird attacks.


We can modify that search, and we will retrieve only the older pictures.

We do that by clicking the “Tools” button and then using the “Time” drop-down to select “Custom range.” This should filter out some of the posts that merely include this in slideshows.

An expanded settings list for Google reverse image search that can be accessed by clicking “Tools” and “Custom range…” These settings can be altered to filter out newer photos by modifying the dates that will be included in the results list.


We pick a date in the past to see if we can filter out the newer photos. We remove the “birds attacking people” search and replace it with “bird,” since the other phrase sounds like a title for a slideshow with many of these sorts of photos in it. The original is not likely to be on a page like that; the slideshows come later in the viral cycle:

A new reverse image search, with a custom date of Dec 31, 2009 to exclude newer photos, such as those which may have been virally propagated under false pretenses. Now, our suggested search term is “bird.”


Why choose the year 2009? For viral photos, 2009 or 2010 is usually a good starting point. If you don’t find any results within that parameter, then go later, to a year like 2012. If you find too many results, then change the search to something like 2007.

Here we get a much better set of results. Instead of a list of “When Birds Attack” slideshows, we get a set of results talking about this specific photo. One of the results stands out.

The result page of our reverse image search, in which the title of the third website, PentaxForums, reads, “Got too close the the hawk :(,“ and the description reads: “And as the poster said, these are trained…so its more like the camera man pissed off the hunter rather than the bird itself. Rest of the photos. Kazakhstan Eagle…”


This third result looks most promising for two reasons:

  • The poster of the “Got too close to the hawk” result seems to know a bit more about the situation, noting “these birds are trained.”
  • It mentions “Kazakhstan Eagle.” That is a name of a type of bird, but it’s also a place, and if we could confirm this incident took place in Kazakhstan, there will be other ways to trace this back to the original. Remember that our goal is about getting closer in time to the original, but it can also mean getting closer geographically.

When we go to that page, it links us in the comments to a page that has the set of shots that the photographer was taking, as well as a shot of this cameraman being attacked from another angle.

End. FIGURE 45  A list of Google search results of the search term, “stockton ca local affiliate.” We will select the fourth listing, CBS Sacramento.  End. FIGURE 46  CBS Sacramento search with “teenage girls black lives matter” in the search bar.  End. FIGURE 47  A photograph depicting a group of photographers running from a bear.  End. FIGURE 48  A photograph in which a man in a body of water is hiding with a camera in a swan hunting tent.  End. FIGURE 49  A photograph showing a section of a city empty and in shambles with what appears to be debris cluttering the buildings and streets.  End. FIGURE 50  A photograph depicting a large stone ram on top of a semi-truck with the “OVER-SIZE” label on its front bumper. The ram appears to be more than three times the height of the semi-truck.  End. FIGURE 51  A screenshot of the Baltimore Gazette, a site created to spread misinformation. The headline reads, “Clinton Received Debate Questions Week Before Debate, According to Sources.”  End. FIGURE 52  A Google search tip demonstrating how to exclude a specific site from search results. The string used in the example is “baltimoregazette.com -site:baltimoregazette.com”. This would search all sites except for “baltimoregazette.com.”  End. FIGURE 53  The homepage of the Pacific Justice Institute.  End. FIGURE 54  Google search results for “www.pacificjustice.org -site:www.pacificjustice.org.” The search omits the site www.pacificjustice.org and brings up a Wikipedia article as the first result.  End. FIGURE 55  WHOIS search result on the ICANN interface for “motherjones.com.”  It displays the website’s owner, Foundation for National Progress, and its contact information.  End.  FIGURE 56  WHOIS search result on the ICANN interface for “baltimoregazette.com”. The website’s owner is listed as Domains by Proxy.  End. FIGURE 57  A close up of baltimoregazette.com’s date of creation from WHOIS on the ICANN interface, which is listed as July of 2015.  End. FIGURE 58  An article published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS Medicine.  End. FIGURE 59  A Google search for “plos medicine impact factor,” which indicates in the knowledge panel its impact factor is 13.585 as of 2015.  End. FIGURE 60  An article published in the Journal of Obesity and Weight-loss Medication whose impact factor we want to investigate.  End. FIGURE 61  A Google search for “Journal of Obesity and Weight-loss Medication impact factor” whose impact factor does not appear in a knowledge panel.  End. FIGURE 62  The Google Scholar search results for “David Bann,” which features his many publications in lifespan obesity patterns. Most of the publications we find are from the last ten years.  End. FIGURE 63  The AnonHQ article titled, “It’s Official: European Scientific Journal Concludes 9/11 was a Controlled Demolition.” The article has over 14,000 views and was published on September 11, 2016.  End. FIGURE 64  The Google Scholar search results for “Robert Korol,” who appears to have published architectural research in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s.  End. FIGURE 65  The Google Scholar search results for “Jennie Connor 2016,” which shows her well-cited publications. Her 2017 article received 12 citations, and two articles were cited by 23 and 36 others.  End. FIGURE 66  The Google search results for “addiction impact factor,” which we find in the knowledge panel to be 4.145 as of 2010.  End. FIGURE 67  The Google search result for “nih alcohol and cancer.” The fifth result from the NIH is described as “A fact sheet that summarizes the evidence linking alcohol consumption to the risk of various cancers…”  End. FIGURE 68  The Google search result for “www.cancer.gov -site:www.cancer.gov.” This search includes all sites other than www.cancer.gov. We see that five results down, the National Health Institute, an organization we trust, is talking about the National Cancer Institute.  End. FIGURE 69  A tweet by Twitter user @MichaelESmith that reads, “Bullshit! Aztec society collapsed in 1519 fr. Cortes & smallpox. Salmonella in 1540 was far too late. And the painting is European fantasy.” Smith is responding to a tweet claiming that salmonella poisoning may have contributed to the fall of the Aztec civilization.  End. FIGURE 70  A tweet by @pixelatedboat featuring a photo of two men that reads, “This is Woodward and Bernstein. Nixon called them the enemy. They proved that no president is above the law. #NotTheEnemy.”  End. FIGURE 71  A tweet by user @RepJackKimble that reads, “Why have the wars cost so much under Obama? Check the budgets, Bush fought 2 wars without costing taxpayers a dime.”  End. FIGURE 72  The Twitter bio of user @RepJackKimble reading, “Congressman from CA’s 54th District. JackKimble.com Author of Profiles in Courageousness amzn.to/1ER7SeU E pluribus unum (1 Nation under God).”  End. FIGURE 73  The Twitter bio of user @jasoninthehouse reading, “United States Congressman (UT-3). Chairman, Oversight & Government Reform. Tweets come from me, not my staff.” The user’s name has a small blue seal next to his name, indicating that his identity is verified by Twitter.  End. FIGURE 74  The header of Twitter user @PerseusJackson, strategically using the background image to give the impression that it is a verified account by Twitter.  End. FIGURE 75  A video showing how to hover over a Twitter user’s verification seal to check if it is legitimate.  End. FIGURE 76  The Twitter bio of user @MinervaSchools reading, “Minerva offers a unique undergraduate education for the brightest, most motivated students in the world.”  End. FIGURE 77  Twitter user @MinervaSchool’s tweetstream from February showing two tweets, the number of followers the account has, and the number of tweets the account has made.  End. FIGURE 78  A tweet by user @mcpli mocking the screenshot of a supposed tweet by user @DanPatrick which reads, “MARRIAGE= ONE MAN & ONE MAN. Enough of these activist judges. FAVORITE if you agree. I know the silent majority out there is with us!”  End. FIGURE 79  A fake tweet generated by the author of this text that shows user @BarackObama tweeting, “Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers is AMAZING! You should read it. (Thanks Mike!)”  End. FIGURE 80  The Politiwhoops archive of deleted tweets by user @realDonaldTrump showing two tweets made and deleted by the account in February of 2017.  End. FIGURE 81  A video showing how to view the cached version of @realDonaldTrump’s Twitter page by searching the account through Google, hovering over the drop down arrow next to the first result’s URL, and selecting “Cached.”  End. FIGURE 82  Google’s cache information of @realDonaldTrump’s Twitter page, reading “This is Google’s cache of https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump. It is a snapshot of the page as it appeared on Feb 15, 2017 14:46:56 GMT.”  End. FIGURE 83  The search bar of the Wayback Machine with the search term “whitehouse.gov” typed in.  End. FIGURE 84  The Wayback Machine’s search results for “whitehouse.gov” displaying a calendar of the months of January, February, March, and April of 1999 with blue and green dots encasing some of the calendar’s dates.  End. FIGURE 85  The page of whitehouse.gov from January 1999 showing links to White House documents, the contents of the website, Radio Addresses of the President, Executive Orders, Photographs, a database to all government sites, The Decleration of Independence, The Constitution of the United States, a subscription list, and press releases.  End. FIGURE 86  An ABCNews.co article entitled, “Donald Trump Protester Speaks Out: ‘I Was Paid $3,500 To Protest Trump’s Rally” and showing a publication date of November 11, 2016.  End. FIGURE 87  An ABCNews.co article entitled, “Donald Trump Protester Speaks Out: ‘I Was Paid $3,500 To Protest Trump’s Rally” and showing a publication date of March 24, 2016.  End. FIGURE 88  An ABCNews.co article entitled, “Donald Trump Protester Speaks Out: ‘I Was Paid $3,500 To Protest Trump’s Rally” and showing a publication date of June 16, 2016.  End. FIGURE 89  An ABCNews.co article entitled, “Donald Trump Protester Speaks Out: ‘I Was Paid $3,500 To Protest Trump’s Rally” and showing a publication date of Septembe 11, 2016.  End. FIGURE 90  The first Google result for “site:abcnews.com.co/donald-trump-protester-speaks-out-i-was-paid-to-protest/” showing the abcnews.co article with a publication date of March 26, 2016.  End. FIGURE 91  A tweet by user @cbquist posting a quote supposedly said by Carl Sagan, which states, “I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time–when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.”  End. FIGURE 92  The top Google Books search results for “clutching our crystals and nervously consulting.”  End. FIGURE 93  An excerpt of Carl Sagan’s Demon-Haunted World, found through Google Books, where Sagan provides the quote that was attributed to him by Twitter user @cbquist.  End.  FIGURE 94  The publication information of Carl Sagan’s Demon-Haunted World showing a publication date of 1996.  End. FIGURE 95  Internet Archive‘s TV News Archive search for “tremendous sea of love.” The second result is our video, and I have circled the video, which is from ABC.  End. FIGURE 96  A search for “pence muslim ban” in the Trump archive, which shows the text of a video in which Mike Pence, when asked if he agrees with the Muslim ban, responded, “I do.”  End. FIGURE 97  Google search result for “how many men landed on the moon” in which a knowledge panel answers the query via Quora with “12 men.”  End. FIGURE 98  Google search result for “last man to land on the moon” in which a knowledge panel pulls text from a Wikipedia article and puts the name “Cernan” in bold as the answer to the question.  End. FIGURE 99  Google search result for “how many apostles were there” in which a knowledge panel replies “12 apostles” via Quora.  End. FIGURE 100  Google search result for “how old was lee harvey oswold at the time of the assassination” in which a knowledge panel puts in bold 18, 22, and 24, which are numbers from Oswold’s date of birth, date of death, and the date of the assassination via a Wikipedia article. None are an answer to the Googled question.  End. FIGURE 101  Google search result for “Presidents in the kkk” in which a knowledge panel pulls the names of several presidents from The Trent Online.  End. FIGURE 102  Google search result for “is obama planning martial law” in which a knowledge panel pulls a quote from newstarget.com claiming that Obama is in fact planning martial law.  End. FIGURE 103  Google search result for “why did lee harvey oswold assassinate president kennedy” in which a knowledge panel pulls text from a site claiming that Oswold did not assassinate President Kennedy.  End. FIGURE 104  Google search result for “msg sensitvity” in which a knowledge panel pulls a list of symptoms from Healthline.  End. FIGURE 105  Google search result for “msg dangers” in which a knowledge panel brings up Mercola, which claims that msg causes brain damage, such as Alzheimer’s disease and learning disabilities.  End. FIGURE 106  Homepage of Buzzsumo, which features a search bar on its main page.  End. FIGURE 107  Buzzsumo results for “cancer,” showing two articles and their Facebook engagements, which is meant to measure the virality of the articles on Facebook.  End. FIGURE 108  Buzzsumo results for “cancer” scrolled down a few articles. One article, “Royal Rife: Cancer Cure Genius Silenced by Medical Mafia” uses particularly inflammatory language.  End. FIGURE 109  Domain Dossier search bar with “coca-cola.com” typed in and a list of databases it searches with boxes next to them you click to include results from.  End. FIGURE 110  Domain Dossier results for the search on “coca-cola.com” in which the registrant’s name, organization, street, and city are all available for public access.  End. FIGURE 111  Domain Dossier search results for “protrump45.com,” showing that the site’s owner is masked.  End. FIGURE 112  Domain Dossier search results showing the registrant of a site’s name as Domains by Proxy, LLC, a service that masks the real owners of sites.  End. FIGURE 113  Google search results for “was 9/11 a hoax” in which the top five sites confirm the conspiracy that 9/11 was faked.  End. FIGURE 114  Google search results for “are we eating too much protein” in which Google pulls a knowledge panel from Huffington Post, and the top site promotes veganism.  End. FIGURE 115  Promoted tweet from user @SafeMedicine urging us to tweet our senators against our exposure to unsafe medicine. We can tell it’s promoted by the gray text that reads “Promoted” below the “reply,” “retweet,” and “like” functions.  End. FIGURE 116  Twitter page for user @SafeMedicine, which features its website name, safemedicine.org.  End. FIGURE 117  The homepage of safemedicine.org, which reveals the name of the organization, The Partnership for Safe Medicines.  End. FIGURE 118  An article about The Partnership for Safe Medicines on the Northwest Public Radio site titled, “Nonprofit Working to Block Drug Imports Has Ties to Pharma Lobby.”  End. FIGURE 119  The headline of a newspaper article from 1973 titled “Nixon Sees ‘Witch-Hunt’ Insiders Say” with the Washington Post’s name below the headline.  End. FIGURE 120  Google search results for “Nixon Sees Witch Hunt (site: newspapers.com OR site: google.news.com/newspapers OR site: newspaperarchive.com)” to only search on these three sites. The first result, from the LA Times, mentions our headline in the description and is from 1973.  End. FIGURE 121  The newspaper article from the first result of our last Google search, which features our headline “Nixon Sees ‘Witch-Hunt’ Insiders Say.”  End. FIGURE 122  Google search results for “Airline Pilot to Fly by Seat of Panties (site:newspapers.com OR site:news.google.com/newspapers OR site:newspaperarchive.com),” in which the article appears in the first result.  End. Edit Previous: When Emotional Content Goes Viral Next: Has it Already Been Fact-Checked?


It’s a series of photos from a hunting competition in Chengelsy Gorge, Kazakhstan. The eagle attacking him is tame and trained, but for some reason attacked him anyway. So this is real; it’s not photo-shopped or staged. At the same time it’s not a National Geographic photographer.

While this process takes some time to explain, in practice it can be done in about 90 seconds. Here’s a YouTube video that shows what this looks like in practice.

Note that as long as you are careful with confirmation bias, you can replace the search term “bird” with a term like “fake” to find pages claiming the image is fake and see what evidence they present.


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Web Literacy for College Students 2nd Ed Copyright © 2020 by NSCC and Michael A. Caulfield is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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