Do you know what “catfishing” is? This is a technique used in the dating world to trick another person into behaving like what you are not. Usually, it is accompanied by a false profile photo and some too forced conversations in which you have the feeling that “something does not fit.”
It cannot be considered identity theft as such, but yes, if the person who appears in the photo is too attractive to be true, do not be surprised if, in the end, what looked like a university student from Murcia ends up being a retired man from Ohio with a lot of free time and very few scruples.
If you have the feeling that someone is using one of your photos for love scams or is stealing your online identity, impersonating you directly, but you have no proof, read on because this may interest you.
How to know if someone else is using your photo online
The best way to check if someone is taking advantage of your photos without your consent is to do a reverse image search. Usually, catfishers and identity thieves tend to resort to photos uploaded by other users to social networks, so this is the first place where we should start investigating.
To do this, take some of your most presentable photos, such as your profile photo or an image of you that has become very popular or has many likes. Then go to the Google Images search engine. You can do it by accessing Google and clicking on the text located in the upper right margin of the browser that says “Images” or through this other DIRECT LINK.
From here, click on the camera icon and upload the photo you want to analyze. If you are accessing from a mobile phone, you will see that Google Images is not compatible. To solve it, go to the labnol.org search engine, a pass that allows you to use Google Images from your mobile. Note: If your photo is uploaded online, you can also make a long press with your mobile and select “Search with Google Lens.” The result will be the same.
After loading the image in the Google search engine, it will return several data:
- The size of the image.
- It will also tell you if there are other versions of that image in different sizes.
- Possible related search: Most likely text query for that image (here it tells you what people type when they Google the image).
- List of similar images.
- The rest are websites where you can find that same image.
With these data on the table, you can know if your selfie or photo in question is in use on a website you do not know or if someone is using it for their own interest in a false profile.
You can also use TinEye to find unauthorized copies of your photo
Personally, to do this type of search, I prefer to use TinEye, a very similar tool that allows you to see at a glance how many times the image appears on the Internet, as well as discover the chronological history of the image. Thanks to this, if you have your own photo that you uploaded to the Internet 5 years ago and see that there are copies from a couple of years ago, you can know how long they have been using that photo without your permission, as well as the website where it is hosted.
Use Yandex for a more detailed search
The downside of using tools like the Google image search engine or TinEye is that they only consider the exact copies of that image (with all the variations in size and cropping they may have). That means that you will have to do an individual search for each of the images you want to analyze. A rather long and tedious process if you have a lot of photos in the bedroom.
A good alternative can be to use the Yandex image search engine. Unlike Google, Yandex performs “face searches,” dividing the photo into segments or “visual phrases.” In this way, it compares millions of images and shows you the results that contain a greater number of similar “visual phrases.” What does this mean exactly?
In this way, what you will obtain will be a list of images where you appear, whether in the same photograph or not, as well as images of other people who physically resemble you.
Other tools to find stolen photos
If you do not get results with Tineye, Google Images, or the Yandex search engine, you can also try other third-party tools specialized in this type of search. In some cases, combining several of these applications can help you discover more stolen content that you may have missed at first.
- PhotoSherlock: Android application used to do reverse image searches. | Download on Google Play
- Veracity: Another application, in this case for iOS devices (iPhone / iPad) with which you can do reverse searches and locate stolen images and fakes. | Download on iTunes
- CamFind: This tool is a visual search engine, which allows you to search online by taking a simple photo with your mobile of the object or person you want to analyze. The application is available for Android and iOS. | Visit CamFind website
What can I do if my photo has been stolen?
You will most likely not find anything after doing such a search with your photo. But if unfortunately, you are unlucky enough to be the victim of such an attack, you must act immediately. You must insist until the withdrawal of the image from circulation. These are some actions you can take:
- Report it to the social network hosting your image: If you see that someone is using your photo in an account that is not yours on a social network such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, you should report it as soon as possible. All of these platforms offer the option of reporting the violation of intellectual property or identity theft. On Facebook, for example, if you open a photo or publication, you will see that by clicking on the 3-point button that appears in the upper right-hand margin, an option that says “Get help or report publication “appears.
- Talk to the website: If a website is using a private photo of you without your authorization, you can contact them to request that they accredit you as the author or remove the image. Unless they are acting in bad faith and on purpose, in most cases, they will have no problem fulfilling your request. If they ignore you or reject your legitimate request, report the website to Google.
- Go to the police and file a complaint: Reporting to the police is the last option, of course. It would be rare for you to get into this situation, but if you are facing an online predator or someone who is using your face and your image to commit a crime, do not hesitate to go to the authorities.