In Trust of Screenshots

For many years the screenshot has been the so-called “hard proof” of the content on the internet. We’ve seen screenshots of errors, misquotes, misinformation, praises, and achievements, much have been attempted with the use of photo editing software. The common internet browsers, Firefox and Chrome, have a tool that cleanly edits a website and that devalues the trust in screenshots.

The tool: Inspect Element.

Users to view all the codes of a website using the Inspect tool that is standard with Firefox and Chrome on desktop versions. The tool also allows you to edit the HTML for debugging purposes. That ability diminishes the trust in screenshots.

One simply finds the text in the Inspect element and updates the HTML. After the HTML change is made, the user then grabs a screenshot to distribute. The common internet user usually accepts screen shots as “hard fact” and the manipulated screenshot goes viral.

Take a look at the example of my Twitter page @BJDorr in the image above. Note the number of followers at 74.7 M (million). We all know that is not true. The reality is I have around 838 followers at time of publishing this post. See how easy it is to change that information cleanly?

“If it’s out on the internet, it is out there forever,” as some have said. How do we know if the information is authentic, edited, manipulated, fabricated, or deleted? That’s a very good question in a fluid environment. 

For now, I have to accept screenshots with skepticism and question for verification. This has now become a tricky situation.