Prove It

New app can sniff out doctored files.

Is this real?: Software detects doctored images such as this morphing of two photographs in the photo above.

Photoshop fiends, beware: YouProve, a new application developed by Duke computer scientists, may be bringing some authenticity to a world of editable media.

Developed in collaboration with Microsoft Research and Technicolor Research, YouProve tracks changes made by editing programs that could significantly alter the content of an image or audio file, such as blurring a face or inserting new content. The feature can be integrated into the Android operating system to monitor images and audio captured with mobile devices.

"With the Arab Spring and the Iranian protests in 2009, we relied on citizen journalists for information," says Landon Cox '99, an assistant professor of computer science who helped develop the application. "But as crowd-sourced content plays an increasingly important role in world affairs, falsified media could have severe consequences. It's important that we make sure the information we are getting is accurate."

The team altered the Android operating system so that it keeps copies of images or audio clips that are opened in applications such as Facebook, Photoshop, or Garageband. YouProve compares modified image and audio files to the original data to create a "fidelity certificate" that notes the extent to which the file has been edited. In tests, the application correctly identified edited regions of photos or audio clips with 99 percent accuracy.

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