Fakes on the Internet
Fakes. Throughout time we’ve had to deal with those who want to pass something off as an original. Sometimes we are not fooled. Other times we go years thinking that it’s the real thing until some new technology tells us different.
In the last week I’ve seen many fake photos of different items – most notably the Large GPS picture and Windows 7 screenshots. There is even a video out there that supposedly displays Windows 7 functionality. While impressive, it makes me wonder if someone is trying to pass these off to make a quick buck?
Remember In Spiderman 3 when Eddie Brock (played by Topher Grace) doctored a Spiderman picture to get a headline? Another movie I remember came from a true story called Shattered Glass – Hayden Christiansen played Stephen Glass, a kid from Chicago that went to work for the New Republic. Glass wrote a questionable article about a infamous hacker and when the inquiries started coming in, the pieces fell to the ground like, well, shattered Glass. Stephen was found to have doctored up or completely made up 27 of his 41 articles written.
This is not a new trend – smearing reality has been around for ages. Whether it’s a composer trying to pass their work off as a lost Beethoven piece, a Picasso painting or a Neanderthal skull. Nowadays we can do it with the computer. Give it a little more life in a digital world, only to find out it’s nothing more than a fake.
Kenneth Fetterman was an infamous artist and full time Pizza delivery man. In May of 2000, he – and partners Scott Beach and Kenneth Walton – doctored a painting supposedly by Richard Diebenkorn. The online auction netted $135 thousand by a collector in the Netherlands. When the scam artists were revealed, they were found to have painted several works from 1998 to 2000. Fetterman pleaded guilty to 6 counts of Money Laundering on March 3rd 2004.
The Piltdown man was part of a skull, jawbone and a few teeth supposedly found in 1911 and 1912. Archeologists believed this was the earliest Englishman found. For over 40 years, people believed that until a new chemical analysis called “Fluorine testing” was developed. This method compares the age of the skull to the age of soil and water that has been around that long. The amounts of fluorine should roughly match, however in this case, the skull was determined to be much younger than that. Once Joseph Weiner exposed his findings, the truth came out that the original scientists put together an elaborate hoax using chemicals and “Ordinary paint” to stain the skull.
Technology is a big part in determining what is true and what is a fake. Techniques unlike the ones we see in CSI are implemented to research and ultimately disprove a theory. Then again, there is just good old fashioned research.
Recently, A Swedish art student claimed to have created the “biggest drawing in the world” using a GPS device in a briefcase. He supposedly mailed the package on a 55 day journey, ultimately drawing a picture of a face across the world. When the student admitted that the drawing was a hoax, it was already posted to many news sites as news.
The biggest hurdle of the technology age was determining rights to an item. Arcade games like Pac Man and Donkey Kong had a host of “Knockoffs” in the 70’s claiming to be the actual game. Even today you might get some game system at a local flea market and find out it’s not really the actual thing. Go to China, come back with a Rolex.
Breaking news is sometimes hard to come by. So why not make it up? Cardboard buns anyone?
A reporter in Beijing declared that soaked cardboard could pass as a bun. He even went as far to stage a “undercover” video showing the making of cardboard buns. This was the case of some great investigative work to determine the video was an elaborate setup. But once again – the internet caught it and pushed it to many news sources.
Not all hoaxes are deceptive. Some hoaxes are meant as entertainment and noted as so. But when taken out of context, it makes for a bigger laugh than first expected.
Take for example the Onion – a satirical newspaper, has been misquoted by bloggers, news sources and even countries. Some thought in 2007 John Edwards was ending his campaign. Beijing thought Congress was actually threatening to move from D.C. to Tennessee or North Carolina. Once they quoted the Onion as the source, they found reality quickly.
Not sure what is a hoax and what is not? Well, Snopes “Urban Legends” is a great place to go. They document what was heard and whether it is true or not. Yes, it can be true and on Urban Legends.
Getting something out there that is original and can be “Dugg” or Buzzed (depending on which service you use) can be really difficult. So instead of taking the time and effort, why not save a few bucks and make it up? Some people do it because they just have an “Andy Kaufman” – type humor to them and expect people to laugh. Others are truly trying to deceive to get some notoriety, money and even fame out of it. We all can’t be the man on the moon.
Wait. That one is true…. Or is it?