July 12, 2011

$5 $10 $20 $50 - How to Get Fake Credits on the Web

This isn't a saga of cosmic significance, but perhaps a cautionary tale nonetheless. Earlier today over on Google+ (a great service on which I've lately been spending far too much of my time), a user posted a wonderful photo composed of four images of U.S. paper currency, each apparently held up in Washington D.C., in such a manner that half of the bills mated perfectly with the actual monuments pictured on the reverse of those notes. Very impressive.

The poster labeled this "U.S. Bills mission complete." In short order this posting became possibly the most widely shared I have seen in the brief life of Google+ (now approaching 1000 shares last time I checked), and is continuing to accumulate vast numbers of congratulatory and laudatory comments. The speed with which this image has been spreading through Google+ is extraordinary.

There's only one problem. Evidence suggests that despite the original poster's description implying that he did the work of creating that image, evidence strongly suggests that this was not the case.

In fact, it took me all of 30 seconds with Google's great Image Search to find many exact copies of that image going back for years, and pointing at the page of the original image's apparent creator, dated 2008 and including a detailed discussion of how he had taken the photos in D.C. that had such dramatic results.

But as I quickly saw, any attempt to mention this fact on existing Google+ threads associated with that photo were immediately swamped by the continuing flood of new shares and comments oblivious to the photo's apparent actual authorship.

As I said at the outset, this isn't a big deal in a relative sense given the scope of Internet issues on our plates. But I find it offensive when someone appears to claim credit for someone else's work, and given the availability of tools like Google Image Search, it doesn't take a lot of effort to conduct a quick check before triggering an avalanche of incorrectly attributed sharing.

OK, I've gotta get back to Google+ now ...


Posted by Lauren at July 12, 2011 03:08 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
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