Challenge

Subject:The Case of the Golden Throne 
Difficulty:●●●●○
Duration:30 minutes (estimated)
Weeks of unrest and violence in the Ukraine was followed by a short coup as the Ukrainian leader, Viktor Yanukovych, fled his country on 22-Feb-2014. Photos of his lavish palace began to appear in social networks. Unfortunately, news outlets have trouble vetting pictures found on Twitter and Facebook.

One of the tweets featured an ornate toilet.
https://twitter.com/JF991/status/437258805340934145/photo/1

Golden Toilet


Is this really Yanukovych's toilet? How would you validate the authenticity of this reported palace photo?

1st Hint
What does ELA and the metadata identify?
2nd Hint
Does a reverse image search identify anything?
3rd Hint
Can you use your web browser to identify when similar pictures appeared online? (See the "Network" section of the browser expectations tutorial.)


Answer
ELA identifies multiple resaves and the metadata has been stripped. So we know that this is not original.

A search on Tineye and Google Image Search identifies the same picture hosted at multiple sites. Using your web browser, you can view the image at those other sites and identify the date it was uploaded. For example:
http://copypast.ru/.../prikolnullnaa_fotopodborka_13.jpg

Your web browser can identify the picture's timestamp from the copypast.ru server. Viewing this picture's timestamp shows that it was uploaded to copypast.ru on 5-Dec-2012. That is more than a year before the picture was allegedly taken (after 22-Feb-2014).

We cannot determine if the picture was digitally altered due to the multiple resaves. However, we can determine that this picture predates 2014 and is therefore not an authentic representation of Yanukovych's toilet.


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