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Facebook image search: How to reverse search images to find matching profiles
Whether you’re looking to find a friend’s profile, checking to see if anyone is infringing on your copyrighted images, or hunting down the source of a viral meme, Facebook reverse image searching is a quick and easy way to do some sleuthing. Unfortunately, the social media giant’s built-in search function isn’t helpful here, but a few other methods will do the trick.
To do a Facebook image search, you can find the original uploader of an image by finding the Facebook profile ID in the image file name. You can also save the image and use Google Image search or other third-party apps and services.
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The filename method
The first search method for a Facebook image only works if the file name hasn’t changed since it was first downloaded, or if the image is already hosted on Facebook. This is obvious if you look at the filename or URL.
How to find a Facebook image uploader using the file name:
- Right-click on the image.
- Select Open image in new tab.
- Look at the URL. There will be three strings of numbers separated by underscores, but the one you want is in the middle — the profile ID of the image.
- Enter the URL https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?fbid= followed by the profile ID copied from the image. Hit enter, and it will take you directly to the profile, provided it’s public or accessible to you.
Be aware that your mileage may vary with this method since most accounts don’t have the privacy level set to public. Still, if it works, your task is done in seconds.
If you can use the filename method, virtually any image will work. Filenames are unique to each uploader. Regardless of what’s in the picture, you will be able to track it down. That said, if several people have uploaded the image, only the specific uploader for that file will be listed. There may be older copies of the image uploaded by other users.
To do a genuine Facebook reverse image search with just the image, you may find it challenging to find a perfect match. Generally, clear and unique photos are best for reverse image searches, and the higher the resolution, the better. It should go without saying, but Facebook image searches are not the same as facial recognition software, so don’t expect any miracles. Also, don’t be a creep.
Using Google Image search
The second method is to use Google’s complex image search algorithm. If you’ve ever used Google’s reverse image search, this should all sound familiar.
There are two ways to do this. The first works if the image is already online. Just right-click on it and select Search Google for image.
How to reverse image search photos already online:
- Find the Facebook image you want to reverse image search.
- Right-click on it.
- Select Search Google for image.
Searching will result in matching image results from around the web.
When the image is on your computer instead of online, you can upload it to have Google try and find it.
How to upload an image to Google to perform a reverse image search:
- Go to images.google.com using a browser.
- Click on the Search by image camera icon.
- Upload the image you want to search for.
- You will get results right away.
We’ve listed Google here, but most modern search engines can reverse image search. Bing is a great alternative, and the Russian search engine Yandex can also work wonders when Google’s image search lets you down.
Using third-party services
If you’re looking to scour the web even further to search for an image on social media sites, there are a few services that can help. One of the most popular is TinEye, specializing in reverse image searches. It will let you know where the image exists on various sites across the web, including Amazon, Flickr, Twitter, and of course, Facebook.
A few other free options for Facebook reverse image searches include SauceNAO, which recognizes languages that don’t use the Roman alphabet. This feature makes it great for finding sources outside of the English-speaking world, particularly from East Asian countries like China, Korea, and Japan.
Photos in Facebook are still intellectual property. The creator needs to give you explicit permission to use them.
It’s easy to find a Facebook image uploader using only the photo, but only if his/her profile is public.
While Google reverse image search is the most popular service of its kind, it has some competition. Some options include TinEye and SauceNAO.