Image manipulation is ubiquitous online – and by no means limited to humorous Instagram filters. In the case of fake images, we differentiate between cheap fakes and deepfakes. While sophisticated software is used for deepfakes, cheap fakes are less technologically elaborate. In the latter case, images are placed in a false context, for example, in order to spread misinformation. The From Print to Pixel project, which is supported by the Migros Pioneer Fund, promotes a more critical attitude towards media. Its activities include workshops that teach people how to recognise misleading images more easily.
Test yourself and click through the images below. Are they fake or real? Decide by casting your vote! The answers as well as tips on how to spot fakes more easily can be found at the very end.
Fake! This isn't a real landscape, but an in-game photograph by the artist Ueli Alder. The screenshot was therefore taken within a video game.
Image: Ueli Alder, out there…, 2017
Tip: Trust your instincts! If a picture stirs up emotions in you, confuses or makes you suspicious, it might well be a fake. So take a another, closer look at it!
Fake! The dolphins were photographed at a port in Sardinia, not in the canals of Venice. This type of deception is known as a "cheap fake". Here, there's no need for technical tools such as image editing programs. Instead, the deception is achieved through the incorrect context into which the image has been integrated.
Image: Screenshot via Twitter, source: https://twitter.com/andrewbloch/status/1240269170664706049
Tip: Does an article raise your suspicions? Enter the title into a search engine and check if the story has also been published by other media.
Fake! The picture wasn't taken during a fashion shoot, but is actually the first computer-generated supermodel.
Image: Screenshot via Instagram of @shudu.gram, source: https://www.instagram.com/p/BkBEPrIlrPS/
Tip: Do a reverse image search to determine which other websites the image can also be found on.
Real! This is a blobfish (Psychrolutes marcidus). These bottom-dwelling fish, which can reach up to 30cm in length, live at depths of 600-1200 metres on continental slopes in the south-west Pacific.
Image: Roman Ferdotsov, source: https://www.businessinsider.co.za/scary-ocean-animals-2018-11/
Fake! What looks like the Queen's annual Christmas speech is actually a deepfake produced as a joke by the British television station Channel 4.
Image: Channel 4, Deepfake Queen: 2020 Alternative Christmas Message, YouTube, 25.12.2020, source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvY-Abd2FfM
Tip: Check the sources and context. In this case, the distributor of the video was a British TV channel which revealed itself that the video was fake.