In a world increasingly filled with photorealistic images that have been modified with AI editing tools or created with a generative AI bot like Midjourney or Stable Diffusion, how do you know if an image is real? One thing that might help is a new tool that Google will launch this summer for US English searches called “About this image”.
It’s similar to the “about this” dropdown that appears on links in regular search results, but is now available in Google image searches. When you perform a “reverse image search” by uploading an image of unknown provenance, you will now see a menu option that lets you know when that image and others like it were first indexed by Google, as well as where on the page. website it first appeared on and which sites it has appeared on since then.
Google’s example involves uploading an image of a fake moon landing, and the tool then shows how the image has appeared in debunking stories, but that’s not the only type of circumstance where this would be useful.
For example, if an image from a breaking event first appeared when it was uploaded to Getty, Reuters, or CNN, then that would seem like a good indication that it’s legit. But an image that first appeared on a random comedy subreddit watermarked by a news organization is more likely to be fake, no matter how amazing the Pope’s new Balenciaga outfit looks.
Assuming it works as intended, hopefully competitors will copy this type of tool and make it quickly available to people beyond US borders, as the spread of misinformation is a problem in more of a country and language.
Google also announced that its own AI generative tools would include metadata with every image to indicate that it’s an AI-created image, not a photo, regardless of whether you view it on a Google platform. He also said that other creators and publishers will be able to tag their images using the same technology, though it’s unknown how broad participation will be.
Google’s blog post says that Midjourney, Shutterstock and others will roll out the markup in “the next few months.”