TinEye; Essential for Fact Checkers

Social media has made it easier to share memories, pictures, and communication across distances. Even the most basic social media sites have enabled users to upload photos, share information about themselves and make friends. 

According to a publication on Social Media today; Social media dates back as far as the early 1840s.  The first recognizable social media site, “Six Degrees”, was created in 1997 by Andrew Weinreich. It enabled users to upload a profile and make friends with other users. In 1999, the first blogging sites became popular, creating a social media sensation that’s still popular to this day. 

As years have passed, an increasing number of social media platforms and sites such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn among othershave come up. These sites have attractedbillions of users for diverse reasons. With the increase of user numbers on these platforms there has been a rise in the propagation of misinformation, disinformation, malinformation and Hate Speech. When the term “fake news” comes up, people think of social media posts with rather implausible stories. 

While posts shared on social media are the most visible aspect of it, there is so much more to fake news than exaggerated article titles on social media feeds. Given that “fake news” is often spread with the use of texts, images, videos, animated graphics, fact checkers have resorted to using open source platforms for verification to debunk “fake news”. Some of these open source platforms include; TinEye, Yandex, RevEye, Reverse Image Search, Google Reverse Image Search, Jeffrey’s Exif Viewer, Google Advanced Image search, Forensically among others. 

We will delve into dissecting TinEye.

Functions, Features and Methodology

TinEye is an image search and recognition company with experts in computer vision, pattern recognition, neural networks and machine learning with a mission to make images searchable. It has a feature known as Compare Feature that lets you quickly switch back and forth between your search and result image by highlighting any differences between the two images. It’s especially useful to see how images have been cropped, resized, skewed or manipulated.

Today, TinEye’s image recognition is used by millions of people and powers billions of searches across a wide range of industries. TinEye is privately owned, profitable and its revenues are generated by its clients. 

Using TinEye, one can search for detailed information on an image or perform a reverse image search. This can be done by uploading an image or searching by URL (Uniform Resource Locator), the address of a World Wide Web page. You can also simply drag and drop your images in the search box to start your search.

TinEye constantly crawls the web and adds images to its index. Today, TinEye index is over 41.9 billion images. To check about an image, you can upload it from your computer or mobile device by clicking the upload button to locate the image you wish to search for. To search by URL, simply copy and paste an image URL address into the search box. One can as well drag an image from a tab in his/her browser and drop it in a browser tab where TinEye is open.

Lastly, it’s possible to simply Copy and Paste an image from your clipboard.

Most images found online are protected by copyright and should you like to use any image found through TinEye, you will need to find the image owner and contact them directly. Unless an image is identified as a public domain image, you need to ensure that you get in touch with any image copyright holder and secure the rights to use the image you have found. 

Unfortunately, in Cameroon, because of the weak legal system in the country, image copyrights are greatly abused as individuals, institutions and other reputable bodies extract people’s images from the internet and use them without their consent.

TinEye can be used to find out where an image came from or get more information about it and research or track the appearance of an image online. One can also find higher resolution versions of an image, locate web pages that make use of an image, discover modified or edited versions of an image, debunk an image or help with attribution.

Access wise, there is a paid and free version of TinEye. The former allows for virtually unlimited search by prepaid bundles while the latter gives room for one to do 100 searches per day and up to 300 per week.

How to use Tineye to search for an image

You can search for an image with TinEye in three ways:

  • by drag and drop
  • by uploading an image
  • by giving TinEye a URL (this can be a page URL or an image URL)

The easiest way to search with TinEye is to drag and drop an image onto the TinEye webpage in your browser.

To search by uploading an image, just click the upload button (blue arrow in a circle) to select from your computer or device the image you’d like to search with.

You can search with a web address (URL) by simply copying the link into the search box on Tineye. 

Below are some YouTube videos on how to use TinEye in identifying a doctored image.

How to use Tineye https://www.youtube.com/embed/XemlN-B7w38?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque&rel=0

How to use Tineye identifying a doctored image https://www.youtube.com/embed/I3Sbihz4vpI?feature=oembed&wmode=opaque&rel=0

Advantages and Disadvantages of TinEye

It uses image identification technology rather than keywords or water marks and metadata. The first website to use image identification and by far the best if not one of the best. The image search with TinEye is neither saved nor indexed because millions of the said data of pictures are added to the existing one daily.
Searching with it is private, secured and always improving. It can tell if someone is using a catfish account for you or if scammers are after you. It varies for devices with various web applications such as the functionality of it on Android is not the same as on iPhones. 
It helps to compare & match options, that is, when sorting through a similar photo e.g best match appears ( by default), biggest, newest and oldest. Images cannot be tracked and monitored automatically with the Reverse Image Search that is, manually and on a daily basis.
It tells if your image has been used by someone of suspicious descent or character. It is seldom organised in an easy and organised format
It finds images by search engine requestIt has no exact match option for 100% verifiable.
It has a huge database of about images with millions being added daily.It cannot alert you when your content is being used by other search engines like berify.com
It has the propensity to display results fastly e.g  about 23.5billion images in 0.6seconds. It has web crawlers that can search either for image dimension or if they are watermarked. About 70% of people according to research on Google do not know about “Reverse Image Search” and its importance.
It provides very minute details about the particular image in search, whatever is asked. Some images are not copy protected and you will have difficulties tracing the originator. 
It provides an option for permission to share an image from the original source.TinEye does not search images that are more than ten MB
Situates your picture in context for use
It limits the search scope so users have to be exact or specific on what they want.
It gives you a very high definition of the various versions of the same picture you desire. 
It measures the impact of your content marketing and shows or proves if people using your picture like it or hate it.
Registration for TinEye is free for you to lay hands on the picture you want to use.

TinEye is a peculiar and unique search engine in that this technology takes an image file and goes through the internet scanning it with the help of crawlers and making sure it looks for matched images or the source of the image as inserted or based on the option one has input in the search bar. 

Given the fact that it possesses a Reverse Image Search option or Reverse Search Engine, it is used to find plagiarised work, lost connections, suspicious characters and much more. 


To Journalists

  • TinEye is an effective open source image search engine. Journalists can therefore use it amidst others mentioned above to be able to minimize the spread of images of doubtful origin.

To Tineye

  • Tineye should find a way to alert its clients when their content is being used.
  • There should be sensitization on the application and its usage so that many more people can easily use the app.
  • Some images are not copyright protected and there are difficulties tracing the originator. Tineye may find a way to protect these images.
  • Tineye should make it possible to search images greater than 10mb.


  1. https://tineye.com/faq
  2. https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2008/08/19/tineye-protecting-images-preventing-orphans/
  3. https://services.tineye.com/developers/matchengine/api_reference/search
  4. https://services.tineye.com/developers/matchengine/api_reference/search
  5. https://tineye.com/how
  6. https://tineye.com/about
  7. https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/reverse-image-search-apps/
  8. https://alternativeto.net/software/tineye/?license=free
  9. https://blog.hootsuite.com/history-social-media/
  10. https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/the-history-of-social-media-infographic-1/522285/

Compiled By: Pedmia Shatu Tita, Fongoh Primus Ayeh & Honorine Cheng Abuck

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