Social media apps in China add ‘hidden watermarks’ to screenshots so images are traceable / Digital Information World


If you find yourself in China, you might have to get tired of the advanced technology that now makes sharing screenshots all the more difficult.

So many platforms add hidden watermarks to images so that when shared with anyone, they are easily tracked. Analysts say no matter where the footage goes, it can be found. Therefore, many believe that this decision could potentially help limit the share of censored content.

Thanks to a few avid social media users, we get more news after the sudden discovery of these hidden watermarks. It was on a public forum equivalent to Quora in China called Zhihu.

After sketching the screenshot, users quickly noticed that a few changes to the tones and tints provided a long string of numbers. And many were sure it had to do with tracking screenshots.

This particular example is quite similar to the Chinese forum called Douban. After saying yes to features like these, users get a glimpse of these traces in images that contain all the information regarding who and where the screenshot came from. Therefore, those who choose to steal other people’s content will definitely think twice before doing so.

Steganography is the term used to describe such behavior where simple things like these can end up tracking down specific users. And now a tech expert and analyst named Eric Liu says he has evidence on how these techniques are being used to trace the whereabouts of sensitive content and track it back to its true source.

This way, accounts can easily be blocked where such content has been banned on various platforms of foreign origin. Undoubtedly, the technique can be described as one that puts an end to the dissemination of prohibited or sensitive content, and even if few people talk about it, well, it surely exists.

The concept of digital watermarking is certainly not something new. It has been in the business for quite some time now, helping to provide copy protection as well as giving assurance of authentication of particular content.

Some companies even resort to adding tracking codes that you may not be aware of with the naked eye but surely exist.

Meanwhile, this sudden news of the use of watermarks on images comes at a time when China is trying to implement tougher measures to better control the online world. Meanwhile, many social media companies are asked to verify identities while others are asked to use certain identification measures like facial recognition and more.

China’s firewall even went ahead and blocked apps like Twitter and Facebook. He has also come up with a new formula to hunt down anyone who criticizes the government of the country through these public platforms as well.

So, as you can see, there are many ways officials use to have full control over the online world.

H/T: Vice.

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