In a white paper published last week, Adobe announced its plans to preview a feature that will aim to curtail the spread of fake/altered (or in colloquial language: 'photoshopped' ) photos online. The motivation for such a feature took root a year back when Adobe established the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) with the help of The New York Times and Twitter.
Under the initiative, Adobe aims to use a system of tags to trace back a given image to the photographer and the location where the photograph was taken. These tags will have a layer of additional security with the help of cryptographic signatures. Whenever a photo is edited, subsequent tags will be added to create a record containing the complete history and origins of the photograph to verify its integrity. Adobe believes that this metadata when bundled with the photograph will help mitigate the spread of disinformation and fake photographs online.
CAI's initiative comes at a time when disinformation is on a rise and social media giants have taken a firm stance on combating it. Twitter has been actively taking down President Trump's tweets. Facebook has come in the cross-hairs for its stance on disinformation as well. It will be interesting to see whether such websites implement a back-end service that establishes the proposed system of metadata.
Adobe realizes that the efficacy of this system depends on its adoption. According to Wired, the earliest use of the system in the news domain might come from The New York Times. Rest assured, camera manufacturers, content creators, software companies, publishers, and social media platforms alike will need to support the standard proposed by CAI if it is to be effective. A board of trusted authorities managing and controlling the digital certificates of the metadata seems like a necessity too.