Adobe releases open-source tools to counter visual misinformation – TechCrunch

Adobe envisions an Internet peppered with photos and videos packaged with additional data about where they came from. The company’s core goal is to curb the spread of visual misinformation, but the system could also be a boon to content creators interested in connecting their name to their work.

First announced in 2019, Adobe’s Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) project has since published a white paper on a technology to do just that, rolled out the system into its own software, and partnered with newsrooms and hardware manufacturers who could help realize its vision to generalize.

Now the company is announcing the release of a three-part open-source toolkit to quickly get the technology into the hands of developers and into the wild. Adobe’s new open source tools include a JavaScript SDK for building ways to display content credentials in browsers, a command line utility, and a Rust SDK for building desktop apps, mobile apps, and other build, display experiences and verifying credentials for embedded content.

Photo credit: Adobe

Because EXIF ​​data stores details about aperture and shutter speed, the new standard also records information about how a file was created, including how it was created and edited. And if the company’s shared vision is fulfilled, that metadata, which Adobe calls “content credentials,” would then be widely visible on social media platforms, image editors, and news sites.

“Recognition [for misinformation] It’s going to be an arms race, and frankly, the good guys are going to lose,” Andy Parsons, senior director of Adobe’s Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI), told TechCrunch. “We instead sought to double down on the authenticity of the content, that is, this idea of ​​proving what’s real, how something was made, in cases where it makes sense who made it.”

The underlying standard, C2PA, is the result of collaboration between Adobe’s CAI and partners such as Microsoft, Sony, Intel, Twitter and the BBC. The Wall Street Journal, Nikon, and Associated Press also recently joined Adobe’s commitment to making content authentication widely available.

With the new tools, a social media platform could integrate the JavaScript provided by Adobe and quickly display all of their images and videos with the content credentials appearing as a mouseover icon in the top-right corner. This implementation could take a couple of developers a couple of weeks instead of requiring a dedicated team and major software build.

The main goal of the CAI is to counteract visual misinformation on the internet – think re-circulated vintage images distorting the war in Ukraine, or the infamous “cheap fake” by Nancy Pelosi. But a digital chain of custody could also benefit content creators whose work is stolen or put up for sale, a phenomenon that has plagued visual artists for years and is now causing a headache in the NFT markets.

Parsons noted that the CAI is also getting a surprising amount of incoming interest from companies that produce synthetic images and video. By embedding origin metadata in the kind of AI creations we see from models like DALL-E, companies can be assured that these generative images will not be easily confused with the original.

build momentum

While the C2PA standard can be compared to something like EXIF, Adobe says the new content attribution standard is much less “fragile” in terms of tampering with or corrupting the attached information. Through a verification page Adobe launched last year, anyone can drag and drop an image with content credentials to verify it’s legitimate. And even if someone breaks the embedded data, it can be reattached using image fingerprinting techniques.

Adobe’s vision for authenticating online content is far-reaching, but remains realistic about the project’s limitations. People with bad intentions will always find a way to mislead others, but the company hopes that a good chunk of average internet users will be open to receiving more information about what content to trust online.

The company also hopes that as the standard gains acceptance, there will be more momentum for image-heavy social media platforms to implement it, even if they initially resist. Flickr, for example, has long displayed EXIF ​​data next to every image, but Instagram and most other modern image-based social networks remove metadata, although some of them encourage users to add location tags back.

Verify Adobe Content Credentials Website

Photo credit: Adobe

Onboarding social platforms starts with convincing these companies to keep content credentials intact. “Once applications, websites and platforms start storing it, you know that downstream consumers, who might be downloading something from Instagram’s website or sharing something on WhatsApp, know the data exists,” Parsons said. “And then we think it’s a matter of time because of the snowball effect for people to show it. There’s really no downside.”

The company invests in education about content authenticity and visual misinformation, but is quickly working to lay the legal groundwork for widespread adoption — something Adobe has long been doing with ubiquitous file formats like XMP and PDF and its industry-standard imaging software .

“It’s one thing to create a specification and have it ratified by industry leaders like our partners Microsoft, Intel, ARM, Nikon and others. It’s another thing to actually see it adopted,” Parsons said. “…The catalyst for adoption should be tools to help people implement stuff and make sure they can do it for free. So you know, no intellectual property, no royalties, no royalties, just free, true open source code.”

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