An SEO asked Google’s John Mueller if links to a specific image file will help the page that image is embedded on rank better. So for example, if you link to the image URL above, but not to this specific page where the image is embedded on, would that help the embedded page rank.
Another example to be clearer, you have an image a domain.com/image.jpg and someone links directly to that image. That image is embedded on domain.com/pageA.html. Google is saying that domain.com/pageA.html won’t get a ranking benefit because there is a link to domain.com/image.jpg. Got it?
Here are the tweets in context:

#SEO theory: Quality external links to image files embedded on quality pages will help the quality page rank in normal Google web search.
— Dan Kern (@kernmedia) November 7, 2017

Why would links to an embedded image be a sign of another webpage embedding that image being more relevant?
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) November 7, 2017

That seems unlikely; links to an image aren’t links to the page (also, hard to tell which page an image really belongs to, eg links to logo)
— John ☆.o(≧▽≦)o.☆ (@JohnMu) November 7, 2017
Interesting question, something I didn’t see asked before, which I guess in hindsight is surprising to me. However, John’s answer seems very logical to me.
Forum discussion at Twitter.

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