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 much use here, but a few other methods will do the trick.
Before we start
There are some things you need to keep in mind before we get into all the details. First of all, you will only be able to find images that have been uploaded to Facebook, and are publicly available. People with hidden images can’t be found.
Read also: How to update your Facebook privacy settings
With that out of the way, there are two main ways to perform Facebook image searches: with filenames and with the images themselves. Your results with either one may vary, but both are easy, and you can do them in just a few minutes.
What kind of images will work?
If you can use the filename method below, 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 it’s been uploaded by several people, 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.
Facebook image search: The filename method
The first method of searching 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, which can be done by right-clicking the image and selecting Open image in new tab. If Facebook hosts the picture, it will contain the text fb and a long string of numbers, as seen above.
That string of numbers is the key to performing a Facebook image search. It’s pretty much the uploader’s Facebook ID number. There will be three strings of numbers separated by underscores, but the one you want is in the middle. This is the profile ID of the image.
Now, 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 privacy set to public. Still, if it works, your task is done in seconds!
Facebook reverse image search: The Google method
The second method we’ll outline uses 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. Searching will open a new tab with matching image results from around the web. You can narrow it down to just results from Facebook by adding site:facebook.com to the end of the search box.
When the image is on your computer instead of online, you can perform the same function by going to image.google.com, clicking the camera icon, then Upload an image and Choose file. If you are on mobile, you may need to switch to the desktop version. Once the results come up, add site:facebook.com to the end of the search to find any matching Facebook profiles.
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.
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, which specializes 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.
There are a few other free options for Facebook reverse image searches like 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.
As for paid options, RevIMG is an excellent platform for reverse image searches. It uses a unique algorithm to identify products, buildings, art, text, and more. It isn’t cheap, though, at $49 a month for the most affordable package.