Researchers Create Program That Can Quantify How Fake Photos Are

What if all advertising photos came with a number that revealed the degree to which they were Photoshopped? We might not be very far off, especially with recent advertising controversies and efforts to get “anti-Photoshop laws” passed. Researchers Hany Farid and Eric Kee at Dartmouth have developed a software tool that detects how much fashion and beauty photos have been altered compared to the original image, grading each photo on a scale of 1-5. The program may eventually be used as a tool for regulation: both publications and models could require that retouchers stay within a certain threshold when editing images.

(via Dartmouth via NYTimes)

  • Stephan Zielinski

    I fear this infers more than what’s really there.  Check out the paper itself: .  Kee and Farid say they have come up with a way to compare the original to the altered version, and (mechanically) quantify the changes in ways that correlate well with some Google Mechanical Turks’ 1 to 5 rating of “how altered” the photo is.  That’s it.

    This does NOT result in software that “detects how much fashion and beauty photos have been altered”.  With just the altered image in hand, there’s no way to tell just how much alteration has taken place.  What they say they’ve now got is a mechanical way to compare the original with the altered version and make a good guess as to what value (from one to five, with one being “very similar” and five being “very different”) people would be likely to pick when describing how much the images differ.

  • Michael Zhang

    Thanks for pointing that out. I’ve updated the post to make it clear that an original image is needed.

  • Aydensgrace

    I still feel like “software tool” is still too strong of a word to use when it hasn’t been implemented in software. Maybe a “technique” or “method that detects…” would be a better way of phrasing it.

  • Daschund

    If only it was the retoucher’s fault for over retouched photos… I’ve never seen a retoucher retouch a photo where the client (be it the magazine, model, celebrity, ad agency or what) would say “Can you go back a bit, it’s a bit over the top”… It’s ALWAYS the other way around…

  • Matt

    Ya, all media outlets are saying the same false statements about this… 

    Kind of irresponsible of them to advertise it the way they did.  Kind of like photoshoping a news photo…

  • Marcus Asplund

    Something like this, perhaps?

  • Darrstone

    Useless software unless you have the original. Which you will never have.