“Fake News” has become a part of our everyday vocabulary, so researchers put some people to the test to see if they could spot the fakes in a series of photos.
Turns out, most people couldn’t figure out what was fake. (scroll down to see answer)
In this day of Photoshop, a lot of people believe they can spot an obvious photo manipulation, but don’t be so sure.
According to a report from The Mirror, more than 700 people took part in a study and only “four in ten couldn’t tell a fake picture from a real one.”
The participants were shown photos of real life scenes, with some minor changes made that might be initially pretty difficult to point out. Scientists note that there was only a 60 percent success rate of picking out a fake image, with those who did notice something off finding they “could only spot what it was 45% of the time.”
To be fair, some of the images (see them at The Mirror) were pretty tricky, with the addition of some items to an image, changes to shadows, air brushing, and subtle manipulation.
The study, which was published in Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, used 40 images created from an original 10 Google images, with six changed in a number of ways to create 30 altered pictures.
Participants were randomly shown images with five originals and five manipulated photos. The study found that when participants were asked “Do you think this photo has been digitally altered,” on average, 60 percent of manipulated images were correctly identified.
Of those who could identify that something was altered, however, only 45 percent of the manipulation locations could be identified.
The study’s lead author, Sophie Nightingale, a PhD student at Warwick University, explained: “Our study found although people performed better than chance at detecting and locating image manipulations, they are far from perfect.”
She added, “This has serious implications because of the high-level of images – and possibly fake images – people are exposed to on a daily basis through social networking sites, the internet and the media.”
She believed this could lead to national security and democracy issues, noting: “The rise of photographic manipulation has consequences across almost all domains from law enforcement and national security through to scientific publication, politics, media and advertising.”
Nightingale also explained, “Currently however science knows very little about people’s ability to distinguish between original and fake images. The question of whether people can identify when images have been manipulated and what has been manipulated in the images of real world scenes remains unanswered.”
Further, the study’s co-author, Dr. Derrick Watson, said: “We found people were better at detecting physically implausible manipulations but not any better at locating these manipulations, compared to physically plausible manipulations.”
He continued, “So even though people are able to detect something is wrong they can’t reliably identify what exactly is wrong with the image.”
Watson also noted that “Images have a powerful influence on our memories so if people can’t differentiate between real and fake details in photos, manipulations could frequently alter what we believe and remember.”
Ok, if you’re ready to see if you were correct here’s the photo with everything circled that’s fake:
And here’s the original unedited photo:
Were you able to figure it out?