Over the years observing things through the lenses of social media I've noticed certain details that stick out from picture to picture that help me to identify clues about it's origin and authenticity. I wanted to go over some of them and explain how to interpret not discovering anything in reverse image.

First Glance

The absolute first thing that sticks out about this image is the black banners extending across the top and bottom of it. I can't be positive but from observation I've noticed that pictures that don't fill up the whole area and show margins are presumed to not be taken by a mobile phone and uploaded through the mobile app. Those images will usually show no margins and have a higher resolution. The banners leads us to believe that this is a screenshot taken of a video.

Reverse Image Searches

The main websites I use for reverse image search are Google and Yandex.  

As you can see we don't get any hits. Now, times have changed some but back when I first started doing this in relation to pictures that were coming out of Syria and surrounding countries, the reverse image search was actually pretty effective. But I've discovered there was a reason for this and that is because most of the content existed on Twitter. Both of these websites crawl Twitter so when you get no result from the reverse image search you can interpret that as saying that it doesn't exist on Twitter.

But the problem is that these websites are not crawling Instagram and only somewhat Facebook. So the interpretation becomes it's not on Twitter but it could be on Instagram or Facebook. You will also get hits for things on YouTube but that will depend on if the video has a thumbnail because obviously the reverse image searcher isn't scanning through video frames.

From what I have observed I would say most of the conversation and media related to "nota rojas" starts on Facebook. A majority of the smaller local news outlets have decent presences on Facebook, while not having very much presence on Twitter. Also you will see a difference in platform usage between areas. Like Sinaloa guys barely have any presence on Facebook but are all over Instagram. Tamaulipas guys have barely any presence on Instagram but are all over Facebook.

Same game, different rules

Ultimately the point is to understand the information pipeline. Since the majority of content in regards to Syria existed on Twitter at that time, using reverse image search was a good indicator because Twitter gets crawled. But being that most of the content in regards to Mexican drug gangs doesn't originate on Twitter, using reverse image search isn't as conclusive. Since where it predominately originates, Facebook and Instagram, aren't or more specifically can't be crawl by reverse image search.