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Be careful what you propagate online. The chances are great that it’s been tampered with to a lesser or a greater extent!

Here is the perfect example of what I mean. This is an image which has recently popped up on my Facebook feed on more than one occasion. All I see when I look at it, is someone who has been exploited by having their face splashed across the internet as they hold a sign which has been digitally altered to contain a “quote” which is not the original message.

The "original" image as it appeared on my Facebook feed numerous times recently.

The “original” image as it appeared on my Facebook feed numerous times recently.

My immediate thoughts are of who this man is, and what his original message was, as well as who took (and therefore owns) the original photograph.

Despite the apparent positive nature of the so-called quote, perhaps this altered image is in fact a violation of this man’s rights to privacy and certainly to his own freedom of speech. Perhaps he was standing up for something different, even contradictory, to that which has been superimposed onto his signboard. So what gives the person who altered the image the right to have done so?

There is no doubt in my mind that the Photoshop-fiend was acting out of what they felt was good intent, but I’m also steadfast in my perception that they most likely neither acquired the original image legitimately, nor considered the rights of the owner and of the people depicted when they altered it, and are therefore guilty of infringing on the ownership rights of the image as well as of misrepresenting someone and their opinions.

It may seem petty, but it’s an example of how easily the truth is distorted. All it took in this case was a tiny amount of carelessness: a Google search, a minuscule amount of photo-editing skill, and a willingness to “share” their own message on Facebook.

I was not able to find the original image, but to mock this practice, and to highlight the problem, I have altered the picture a few times to put my own spin on things. (With thanks and apologies to the owner of the original image and to the people depicted in it.)