The New Debunkonomy
February 14, 2014 6:16 PM   Subscribe

@PicPedant (mefi's own) has attracted a loyal following in doing the Sisyphean work of calling out Twitter photo spammers and scraper accounts by tracking down, correcting and debunking images and giving attribution to the source. Twitter is awash in "interesting photo" accounts particularly since images started appearing in timelines -- some of the most successful of which may be the wildly popular @HistoryInPics and @EarthPix founded by 2 teenagers who allegedly earn $40,000+ a month. PicPedant's debunking can be vastly amusing. Here are a few greatest hits: no, not a baby panda but an Etsy doll; no, not Japanese cherry trees but an infrared scene from Stockholm; no, not a real moon, but a photo manipulation. He's even called out Madonna for lack of attribution on an image that went viral after her tweet. Keep on keepin' on, you crazy pedant.
posted by madamjujujive (30 comments total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
I have a friend who runs an occasional tumblr that sources unattributed viral images: Credit where credit is due. The first thing I did when I saw this post was email her the link to @PicPedant because I knew she'd love it.
posted by immlass at 6:34 PM on February 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Brownpau, I salute you.
posted by Stynxno at 6:37 PM on February 14, 2014

The Madonna picturel link is already dead. Which brings to mind my biggest problem with Twitter, its deliberate transience. (As opposed to my biggest problem with Facebook, its lack of same once it vacuums up all your data.)
posted by localroger at 6:41 PM on February 14, 2014

Twitter Snopes
posted by ActingTheGoat at 6:51 PM on February 14, 2014

Wait so, they get a lot of twitter followers and then how does $40,000 happen exactly?
posted by windbox at 6:52 PM on February 14, 2014 [6 favorites]

BP is a champ.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:57 PM on February 14, 2014

Windbox: affiliate programs, most likely.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:57 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

This has gotten me about Tumblr, where things have gone around where I thought "that's awesome, but--" and then did like five minutes of Googling and it turned out to be fake. But the whole reblog/retweet culture isn't encouraging of that.
posted by Sequence at 7:00 PM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

thank you, thank you, thank you
posted by photoslob at 7:19 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been following for awhile. It's always satisfying when I see a @PicPedant tweet appear.
posted by adamsc at 7:24 PM on February 14, 2014

thsmchnekllsfascists: "Windbox: affiliate programs, most likely."

I am ignorant and still don't get it. How does affiliate program make you money?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:50 PM on February 14, 2014

Affiliate links: some merchants pay per click, some pay per purchase. Once in a while you'll see one of the picspammers post a tweet like this. It disappears maybe a half hour to an hour later.

Thanks to madamjujujive for this. I was actually planning on posting this to Projects when I got the companion site up but the Twitter stream has exploded in just a few weeks, in ways I was totally not expecting.
posted by brownpau at 8:11 PM on February 14, 2014 [16 favorites]

This is awesomeness. Thank you. Also related, this Paleofuture article about one of the creators of some Photoshopped fakes: "One person's obvious fake is another person's proof that the world truly is a beautiful and magical place."
posted by spamandkimchi at 8:18 PM on February 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Please keep fighting the good fight, brownpau. Information skepticism is a skill set all too needed.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:07 PM on February 14, 2014

So do any of the guilty parties ever correct things? Apologise? Send a SWAT team after you?
posted by Jimbob at 9:58 PM on February 14, 2014

If the picfakers and picspammers are well-connected AND vindictive, I'd suggest MeFi's BelovedPau should be keeping an eye out for drones... it's not safe out there for a good pedant...
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:07 PM on February 14, 2014

posted by immlass at 10:27 PM on February 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Bravo Brownpau, bravo.
posted by COD at 11:36 PM on February 14, 2014

A man after my own heart. I'd give up pretty quickly though from the sheer volume.

You must do some hardcore meditation, Brownpau.
posted by dry white toast at 6:52 AM on February 15, 2014

oh yay! i had heard the account was suspended!
posted by nadawi at 6:56 AM on February 15, 2014

I was doing some of this on a horror blog I had. tumblr seems to have turned into a mostly visual phenomenon, with people sharing massive quantities of contextualess imagery because rhe image itself interests then. I woukd select something that caught ny attention, figure out where it came from, and provide the context.

Aside from the fact that I think creators should get their due, it's pretty enjoyable work, as interesting photos more often than not have interesting backstories, and so I wound up learning a lot. And Google Image Search has made tracking down the original source a lot easier. And I do feel that people are missing a lot when they just see images as anonymous, contextualess oddities, rather than the way I do, which is as a sort of treasure map. But you can't dictate to others how they should experience the web, and I suppose there is a sort of pleasure in mystery.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:13 AM on February 15, 2014 [5 favorites]

Incredible that there's a culture that thrives on making people stupider.. it's like the polar opposite of the Bad Science blog. I guess you can monetize anything.
posted by crapmatic at 7:41 AM on February 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Jesus Christ on a moon shot. Don't people realize that if the moon was that big, we'd be about to experience a collision?

I am the most annoying of all my FB friends who insists that photos like this WILL NOT PASS. Along with the stupid Fukushima MUTANTZ photos. *rolls eyes*

I keep telling them that when Fukushima kills us all, it will be far less interesting than that.
posted by RedEmma at 7:54 AM on February 15, 2014

This really begs the question ... no, no it doesn't.
posted by terrapin at 10:36 AM on February 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is the picture Madonna posted without attribution. It's a picture of Putin as all 6 members of the Village People by JimllPaintIt, and was being sold as a T-Shirt with proceeds going to Stonewall, which is why it was especially bad of her to post it with no link or attribution.

He's now responded by posting this picture of 'Madonna drying out cigarette ends under a hand drier in the ladies toilets in Wetherspoons'
posted by DanCall at 11:02 AM on February 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Excellent. Thank you brownpau for doing this, and madamjujujive for posting it.
posted by homunculus at 11:10 AM on February 15, 2014

I am also a major fan of @FakeAstroPix, as often retweeted by @PicPedant. Both are fantastic.
posted by edd at 12:25 PM on February 15, 2014

Wally Pacholka's "True Image from False Kiva" has always been particularly annoying to me thanks to the combination of its poor execution, the cheeky title, and the stamp of legitimacy it gets from being NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Very long story short: there is no point in time at which the Milky Way/Jupiter and the shadows on the landscape could have been simultaneously photographed in those positions. The landscape would have to have been shot shortly after sunset, and the sky several hours later.
posted by Lazlo Nibble at 12:41 PM on February 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

This image is topically a bit different as it's a call to action (kinda) instead of an aesthetic pleasure but the same problem of repurposed photos. Photo of a mass veterinary operation to spay/neuter cats becomes OMG animal testing.
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:25 AM on March 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Beep on The Beeb . (Brownpau interviewed by BBC World News)
posted by Authorized User at 9:37 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

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