On the road…again!!!
Essays, Stories, Adventures, Dreams
Chronicles of a Footloose Forester
By Dick Pellek
Photoshopped Deep Fake Photos and Fake News Get Married
Not that anyone cares, but certain “news” feeds on the Internet continue to mislead readers with clickbait gambits to lure them into informational stories that have nothing to do with the photo that hooked them in the first place. To get right to the point, the Windows settings of the Footloose Forester includes a RAM resident setup of MSN News as part of the start-up routine. Quite often, the photo offerings as part of the news portfolio include such things as Haunted Places around the world, the most Dangerous Animals in nature, and the Craziest Bridges in the world. As a sop to residents of Virginia where the Footloose Forester lives, the computer techies also blare out the headline, Virginia Bridge Is One Of The Craziest In The World; and beckon the reader with a deep fake photo of a bridge in Japan…a photoshopped photo, by the way.
The marriage of deep fake photos with deceptively false headlines is the pancake batter for cooking up fake news. It is a growing industry because it does not take a certificate from Cordon Bleu, or any cooking skills at all. Just select a real photo of a bridge that is not located in Virginia, emphasize in text that this Virginia bridge is one of the craziest in the world; and hope that the deluded readers are directed to the site where the photos of dozens of other bridges around the world are featured. Nary a one of them is in Virginia. By the way, the photoshopped photo of the bridge in the original newsfeed is in Japan. The Footloose Forester checked for himself. The distortion in the photo is effected by greatly altering the steepness of the roadway. How would you go about proving that? By finding the real bridge through Google Earth and zooming down to a suitable scale, then depicting the same scene by navigating the frames to correspond to the photoshopped phony. When the unbiased Google Earth photo without vertical distortion shows up, you will find that the Japanese bridge is not at all scary or crazy. Of course, the whole process leads to the conclusion that a Fake News story is being offered for public consumption.
Wrong bridge, wrong country, insulting suggestion...typical fare in fake news
A large and unsuspecting audience of computer users should be worried because much more serious news stories can be disguised to resemble legitimate news. Anyone with elementary computer skills can become a purveyor of fake news with very little effort. Doctoring photos to produce passible deep fake photos, along with sophistic text, raises the threshold of plausible credibility.
Typewriters and computer word processors don’t distinguish the difference between fact and fiction. That is left up to the readers to identify, if they are willing and able to do so. Spotting a typo here and there is easy but spotting a work of disinformation is much more difficult.
When this distraught Footloose Forester has the patience, he will edit this chronicle with his version of a deep fake photo of a bridge he knows in California. It is the beautiful Bixby Bridge. The exercise will keep him in the game.