Fake photographs have been around for almost as long as the camera, but in a digital age of photography, the ability to alter images has never been easier. EU Forensic Video Expert David Spreadborough examines the current challenges surrounding authenticating images.
Thanks to the latest administration in the USA, the term ‘fake news’ has become a popular method of explanation to an event created within social media. The problem is that news agencies and websites find these invented stories and then republish, therefore causing the spread and proliferation of the fake story.
You may have seen this image recently during the G20 meeting of world leaders. Looks like a serious conversation. It may have been, but Putin was never there. Find a picture, create a story, ‘Photoshop’ the picture, then tweet it. The fake news cycle then starts. The more relevant the story, the quicker the spread.
The modification of images to tell a different story is nothing new, it’s been happening since the early days of photography. A popular myth is that it’s a problem caused by the digital age. An example is the photo of The Cottingley Fairies. Although I accept that digitisation has made things a lot easier and a lot more convincing.
Over the past few months, entwined between the ‘fake news’ stories have been several reports of manipulated images appearing in academic studies. It is easy to understand how people can be swayed to change a couple of images to validate a piece of research if it assists in the success of a financial grant. Images in documents used to prove qualifications and images proving the existence of large, wild cats in southern England have also all recently been found to be fake, or maliciously manipulated. When someone fakes an image, it is simply to present an event in a different way than the original moment in time. Continue reading