College Admissions Scandal: How Easy Is It to Fake Athletic Photos? | WSJ

College Admissions Scandal: How Easy Is It to Fake Athletic Photos? | WSJ

November 13, 2019 16 By Stanley Isaacs


– [Narrator] The is Bradley Cooper’s head on Tom Brady’s body. It was made in four minutes. You may not fall for
it, but just go with it. Why do we do this? Because as part of the largest college admissions scandal ever, prosecutors say some
parents even went as far as paying to have impressive, but fake, athletic photos of their children created. The criminal complaint includes examples where faces of applications were superimposed onto
bodies of other athletes. It’s not surprising that
admissions officials might not notice doctored photos. Because most of us are actually really bad at spotting fakes. A 2017 study found that
people could identify false images only 60% of the time. Hany Farid researches digital
forensics and image analysis. – This type of manipulation,
where you take one person’s face and you superimpose
it on another person’s body is relatively easy to do in Photoshop. And I think it’s fair
to say that most people don’t expect that images attached to a college application
are gonna be manipulated, so not it’s not like people
are looking for that, as opposed to, for example, images on Reddit or images on The Onion, where there is maybe more skepticism. And particularly given that the images are not sensational, it’s not a shark swimming down the street. It’s a kid playing a sport, so there’s nothing alarming about that. So I think it would be relative easy task to create an image like this and not have anybody notice. – [Narrator] Farid showed
us just how easy it is to manipulate photos. We used USA Today Sports
and Zuma Press images of this year’s Super Bowl champ Tom Body, and Oscar nominee for Best
Actor, Bradley Cooper. The final result isn’t perfect, but it shows how in under four minutes, anyone with basic Photoshop skills could mock up a fake that might
fool anyone at first glance. By the way, we know that Cooper is actually an Eagles fan, sorry. – The trend that we are seeing, whether it’s Photoshop, whether it’s apps, whether it’s AI-powered technology, is the ability to create
fake images and video and audio is getting easier
and easier and easier. And, are getting more
and more sophisticated.