Image fakery requires all of us to be vigilant
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it doesn't necessarily mean those words are true.
And it is even more likely that is the case in this era of digital images and digital manipulation.
This is illustrated by a recent fake video that gained widespread viewership online and on television. “Golden Eagle Snatches Kid” purportedly showed what the title said. At one point it received 5 million online views in one day.
The only problem is that it was not real, even though it looked realistic to the casual viewer.
It turns out students at a 3-D animation design school had created the video using animated images that were integrated with film. It is not the first time students at the Canadian school have faked video to create hoaxes, nor is it the first time video and photos have been falsified.
Faking images has been done almost as long as the photography technology has existed, but it has been much cruder in the past and perhaps more easy to detect. Computers and sophisticated digital imaging software have now made it easier to do and harder to detect.
It is used frequently in TV commercials and in movies to create scenes that would be difficult, or impossible, to create in reality. Often it is revealed or understood that is what is happening, and it is therefore acceptable.
And reputable news organizations and others who use images professionally usually have strict policies against the use of digital techniques to inappropriately alter photos and video.
But the reality is there are those who have the motivation to fake images to spread false information. Often they spread these images via the Web in an effort to manipulate the gullible. It can be dangerous to the public interest.
That is why it is critical that all of us be very wary of what we see and only rely on dependable sources, especially online. If it doesn't look believable, then it likely is not.