Fixing photo attribution with DRM

A new project from Adobe, Twitter and The New York Times claims to have ambitions to "fix" the spread of misinformation online and help social media users identify who created a piece of art or a photo. Dubbed the Content Authenticity Initiative, it focuses on supposed transparency:

With the volume of digital content increasing, people want to know that what they’re seeing online is authentic. Yet, currently there’s a lack of transparency. People can be misled when they don’t know who is altering content and what content has been changed. The ability to provide proper content attribution for creators and publishers is critical to ensure trust and transparency online.

The announcement is decidedly vague, but this sounds like Digital Rights Management (DRM) but for photos, with the idea that you can somehow verify content made by Charged is indeed made by charged. That sounds nice, but it appears this isn't much more than exposing metadata, rather than watermarking directly on the photo.

Adobe says it sees the project as an important part of fighting 'deep fakes,' a phenomenon essentially created by the company's own tools, like the experimental project VoCo that allowed generating speech from just a few seconds of anyone talking.

Will this actually enforce anything or check that authenticity? It seems unlikely, and while it's nice in theory, most of the lost credit for photos on social media is because someone screenshots something and reshares it, which this definitely won't fix at all.

Steve Jobs once famously said that "any company trying to protect content using a DRM must frequently update it with new and harder to discover secrets. It is a cat-and-mouse-game." DRM makes the experience worse for the people that use technology, almost always, and this project sounds like it's much ado about nothing.

I hope I'm wrong, of course, because I've had my own work stolen online and reshared, but I don't think this project will solve much, given there are always innovative new ways to steal people's work.

Facebook is now FACEBOOK

It's a big deal when a company changes its brand, and Facebook is doing it right at a moment when it would like you to forget that it's a trash fire with a new logo, brand aesthetic and ethos:

Today, we’re updating our company branding to be clearer about the products that come from Facebook. We’re introducing a new company logo and further distinguishing the Facebook company from the Facebook app, which will keep its own branding.

Yes, Facebook is now FACEBOOK according to its logo, which was "designed for clarity" as in "we aren't just that big blue app anymore." Its old branding constantly paid homage to its original, core app, and the company clearly wants to escape that trap as it starts slathering it across Instagram and WhatsApp as well.

Twitter was alive with jokes about the branding, which I'll leave you with because I just don't have any takes except that Facebook is trying to distract from the fact that it's undoing democracy with a new logo. Enjoy:

glad Facebook has embraced its true brand ALLCAPS YELLING
- @petridishes

This fits nicely with my policy of ignoring anything in all caps.
- @spencerjakab

Why say something with your logo, when you can say nothing?
- @margarita

Finally, writing in caps-only about how Facebook is dismantling democracy won't look like I'm yelling, I'm just sticking to their brand.
- @tha_rami

Read also: The former head of election integrity at Facebook says the company's tools and business model make it hard to not harm democracy

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