Innovation That Matters

On Truthmark, photographers can explain the volition behind their photographs, as well as authenticate them | Photo source Canon Truthmark

Stopping the spread of fake news through photographs

Publishing & Media

Canon Nordic has launched Truthmark, a database where editorial photographers can authenticate and discuss their photographs

Spotted: The term “fake news” is common parlance in an era where most people find their news stories online. A major contributor to the spreading of fake news is photography, which can be used to manipulate a reader’s emotions and to skew a story. Canon’s initiative, Truthmark, is a photography database, accessible globally, on which both photographers and viewers can be sure of authenticity. 

A spokesperson from Canon explains that “With the Truthmark initiative we hope to reduce misuse of photos worldwide and lead to a fair usage of photos going forward, always ensuring the truth behind the image. Because we believe in the truthtellers. And when their images travel the world, we want to make sure their story will follow”.

The platform, which partners with Danish creative agency Uncle Grey, allows photographers to create a free account on the Truthmark website. After being verified, they can add comments and facts to the photos they upload, in order to authenticate it. This is a non-traditional method; the photographer is normally behind the lens, but Truthmark is encouraging them to take ownership over their work, and to take it back from sources who might use or alter it. It might also give journalists further context on whether the image is suitable for their story, further preventing even accidental misuse and accounting for subtlety.

The photos are given unique digital footprints, which ensure that the original can be located on the platform, even if it has been manipulated elsewhere. They are also encrypted, so those visiting the site can double-check on authenticity in the free image search if they want to use the photograph.

The agency explains that “we’ve seen so many photoshopped pictures or videos and the rise of deep fakes. It makes people question the product that Canon delivers. Throughout the year this will be the project that Canon builds on.” Their aim is to rebuild the trust both the general public and photographers have towards them as ‘truthtellers’.  

A short documentary led by three leading photographers was created during lockdowns and is being used to promote the campaign, resulting in 6,883,427 impressions and 4,009,987 people reached in just one week.  

Written By: Holly Hamilton

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