On 27 January 2017, a set of images purportedly showing Donald Trump with his hand on former President Obama’s shoulder was circulated on social media, along with the claim that the President had doctored one of the images to make his hands appear larger:
The biggest problem with this claim is that the graphic displayed here does not use identical images. As these images went viral, more people offered “proof” that Trump had manipulated the image to increase his hand size. Eventually, the “original” Getty photograph was provided as evidence:
Again, however, these images are not identical. Trump’s head position, and the position of Obama’s free hand, clearly indicate that these images were taken at slightly different times. While these images are similar, potential differences in the camera angle, the distance between the camera and the subjects, the type of lens used, and the moment the photograph was snapped (along with other potential variations in how the photograph was taken) makes it difficult to use these images to judge hand size.
The image on the left is a screenshot from Trump’s interview with ABC News in which the President showed reporter David Muir several pictures that he had hung in the White House. The image can be glimpsed at the 6:30 mark of part five of the linked interview, a screenshot of which is provided below:
The image shows a real photograph taken by Getty Images. When the photograph that Trump hung in the White House (shown above) is compared to Getty’s photograph, it’s clear that Trump’s hand size was not, in fact, altered:
We cropped the images to give a closer look at Trump’s hands in both pictures:
We also examined the video of Trump bidding farewell to Obama on Inauguration Day, and found that the President’s hand was not resting on Obama’s shoulder, but that he was patting it as he said goodbye. It’s possible that the photograph showing Trump with “bigger hands” was simply taken as Trump’s hand was coming off, or landing on, Obama’s shoulder, and therefore slightly closer to the camera: