Worried About Getting Duped by Fake Photos? Try This Browser Plug-In

iStock
iStock

It’s easier than ever to get fooled online, especially by photos. Sophisticated editing can make doctored images look like legitimate photojournalism, and a surprising number of the viral images that show up in our social media feeds are at best misleadingly taken out of context, and at worst, completely doctored. But if you’re not a Photoshop expert, you may not be able to tell. That’s where SurfSafe comes in. The new browser extension helps flag fake or misleading images as you surf the web, as Wired reports.

Available for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers, SurfSafe allows users to cross-reference where photos have shown up before online. It compares images with similar photos from news organizations, fact-checking sites, and reports from its users to determine whether you should trust what you’re seeing.

It flags images as either “safe,” “warning,” or “unsafe” depending on whether there are other versions of the photo out there that show a substantially different image and whether it’s been the subject of any controversy. When you click on the magnifying glass in the right-hand corner of an image, a window will appear in the right-hand corner of your tab aggregating instances where that image or something similar has shown up elsewhere on the web.

Screenshot, SurfSafe

When you enable SurfSafe, you can choose to mark a number of sources as “safe,” including TV news networks like ABC and CBS, wire services like Reuters, papers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and websites like Slate and Ars Technica. Wired reports that the extension also checks more than 100 other sites, including dedicated fact-checking sites like Snopes.

But some of the sources you’re allowed to mark as “safe” aren’t entirely reputable themselves. The list includes sites that have a well-known reputation for being unreliable, like The Daily Mail—whose standards for factual accuracy are so low that Wikipedia no longer allows it as a source. Presumably, if an image is cross-checked against 100 other sites as well, the extension will be able to flag a misleading photo, but it still seems like an odd choice for a fact-checking plug-in regardless.

Screenshot, SurfSafe

The browser extension just launched, so the developers may still be working some kinks out. During my trial run, the extension sometimes lagged and failed to finish analyzing particular images. Other times it incorrectly reported that an image had not been spotted on any other site, though a reverse-image search on Google turned up plenty of hits for the same photo.

Eventually, the more people who use SurfSafe, the bigger its database of verified and flagged images will grow, in theory making its results more and more accurate. Even with its shortcomings, unless you dedicate yourself to becoming an eagle-eyed Photoshop expert and news junkie, it’s probably your best chance at navigating the often-murky world of viral images without falling for a hoax.

[h/t Wired]

Thursday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Guitar Kits, Memory-Foam Pillows, and Smartwatches

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 3. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Connect Your Nintendo Switch Audio to Wireless Headphones With This Bluetooth Adapter

StackCommerce
StackCommerce

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One of the top gifts this holiday season is the Nintendo Switch ($300), and playing it with others is one of the safest ways to connect this year. You can make game time even more social with this Bluetooth adapter that can connect your Switch, smartphone, and wireless headphones simultaneously. That means you can listen to music, Switch audio, and even chat while you play. And through December 5, you can get it for just $36.54 with the code DEC15 at checkout.

The adapter works with a simple two-button design that houses the latest Bluetooth 5.0 technology and an advanced DSP algorithm to combine audio from your Switch and smartphone to stream wirelessly to your headphones or speakers.

The product earned itself a 4.7-star rating on Amazon, with reviewers saying, “The HomeSpot Bluetooth Adapter Pro is a must-have accessory for the Nintendo Switch” and, “I just ordered air pods for traveling and now I can listen to my Switch and/or whatever music or podcast I want all at the same time!”

The HomeSpot Bluetooth Audio Adapter Pro has five intuitive indicators that show operation at a glance. All of that functionality is housed in a pretty low-profile design that fits seamlessly with the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Lite. The set comes with one adapter, one USB-C to USB-A converter, and a pouch for storage.

For a limited time, the HomeSpot Bluetooth Audio Adapter Pro is 14 percent off at a final price of $43. It's the perfect gift to keep your pals connected after a year of Zoom fatigue.

Prices subject to change.

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