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Social Media Apps In China Are Adding ‘Hidden Watermarks’ To Screenshots So Images Are Traceable

If you happen to be in China, you just might need to be weary of state-of-the-art technology that has now made sharing screenshots all the more difficult.

So many platforms are adding hidden watermarks to pictures so that when they’re shared with anyone, they are easily traced. Analysts claim that no matter where the images go, they can be tracked down. Therefore, many feel the move could potentially assist with limiting the share of censored content.

Thanks to a few avid social media users, we’re getting more information about the news after a sudden discovery of these hidden watermarks came into the limelight. It was across a public forum that’s equivalent to Quora in China called Zhihu.

After the screenshot had been outlined, users were quick to notice how a few modifications to tones and hues provided a long string of digits. And many were certain that it had to do with tracking screenshots down.

This particular example is quite similar to the Chinese forum called Douban. After saying yes to features like these, users get a glimpse of such traces in pictures that entail all the information regarding who and where the screenshot came from. Hence, those who choose to steal others’ content are definitely going to be thinking twice before doing so.

Steganography is the term used to outline such behavior where simple elements like these can end up tracking specific users down. And now, one tech expert and analyst by the name of Eric Liu says he’s got evidence about how such techniques are being employed to trace down sensitive content’s whereabouts and track them down from their real source.

This way, accounts can easily be blocked where such content has been forbidden across various platforms of foreign origin. Without a doubt, the technique can be outlined as one that puts an end to the spread of banned or sensitive content, and while not many people are talking about it, well, it surely exists.

The concept linked to digital watermarking is definitely not something new. It’s been in the business for a while now, helping to provide protection against copying as well as give assurance for a particular content’s authentication.

Some firms are even resorting to the addition of tracking codes that you may not be aware of with the naked eye but surely exists.

Meanwhile, this sudden news of watermarks being employed on images comes at a time when China is trying to implement stricter measures to have greater control of the online world. Meanwhile, a lot of social media companies are told to verify identities while others are requested to make use of certain measures for identification like face recognition and more.

China’s Firewall has even gone ahead and blocked apps like Twitter and Facebook. It also has devised a new formula for tracking down anyone and everyone that criticizes the country’s government via such public platforms too.

So as you can see, there are a lot of ways being used by officials to have complete control of the online world.


H/T: Vice.

Read next: Facebook’s New Internal Document Says Its Engineers Have ‘Zero Clue’ Where Users’ Data Goes

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