To be safe from misinformation and scams Internet users need awareness regarding photo manipulations

Social media is a platform for users to avail all sorts of opportunities, from using it to earn money to make a platform to interact with friends and family from all over the world. People use social media to show a whole new side of their lifestyle, to make people aware of their daily routines. But along with that social media also became a platform to scam and mislead people.

Reasons behind fake photos

There are numerous reasons people create fake photos. E.g, some people can’t afford to visit someplace but to be an influencer for others they create fake photos just to boast a better profile picture. On social media these kinds of things are pretty common, people use fake photos on various occasions just to show off a lifestyle they crave for. On social networks, people create a whole new identity of themselves just to be an influence on some followers.

Is it easy to spot a fake picture?

At times, it can be very hard to differentiate between real and a fake picture. People usually asses the pictures on the basis of visual information only, but according to the experts who researched on this topic recently it is very unlikely for people to fall for fake images if they are experienced with internet, digital photography and online media platforms as well.

Which factors help to analyze fake photos?

Usually the first judgment is passed on the main source that shared the image online, secondly, people find trust in the friends and family who shared or reposted those images. People’s beliefs also matters, if they disagree regarding the photo it is likely they will call it fake and more likely to believe it if they agree with what they saw.

Researchers from University of California and University of Virginia created six fake photos on a diverse set of topics and then created 28 mock-up compositions of how each of those photos might appear online such as on Facebook or on some known Magazine. Each Fake photo had a short description of its content and some cues regarding its place or some information on the source. Only fake images were used, just to analyze the variations in users.

Outcomes of the research

Researchers asked 3,476 participants from Amazon Mechanical Turk, living in the United States and are at least 18 years old. It turned out that the credibility of images didn’t depend on the context but on the primary and secondary sources.

The image shared by less than four people was considered a fake whereas the same image shared by a known Magazine was considered authentic. The main factors that determine images fake were the level of experience with internet and digital photography. People who had experience with social media and digital image editing tools were not easily convinced about the authenticity of the images and less likely to accept them at face value.

To reduce the potential harm of fake images, the most effective strategy is to aware people regarding online media and digital image editing.

If you know well how image editing and manipulation works, you might have a leg up at spotting fake photos

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