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Media outlet blames Photoshop for making photo of Australian lawmaker more revealing| GuyWhoKnowsThings


A lawmaker from the Australian state of Victoria sat down to watch the evening news Monday, expecting to see herself as a prominent opponent of duck hunting.

But MP Georgie Purcell noticed that in a photograph used on 9News, the tattoos on her abdomen were missing.

“I saw the image come up on the screen and I thought, 'That's really weird,' because my stomach is so tattooed,” Purcell said Wednesday.

She compared the image to the original photo, which was taken last year by a local newspaper, and realized that not only had her tattoos been removed, but her dress had become a crop top and skirt. “I've had chiseled abs and a boob job,” she said. “I felt very, very uncomfortable about it.”

After Purcell pointed out the edits on social media site X, female lawmakers and journalists called the edit sexist and objectifying.

Media outlet 9News apologized to Ms Purcell. In a statement, she called the changes a “graphical error” and blamed a Photoshop automation tool.

The outlet's graphics department used an online photograph of Ms. Purcell for a story, said a statement by Hugh Nailon, news director of the outlet for Melbourne, which is located in Victoria. By resizing the photo to fit the specifications of the news package, “Photoshop automation created an image that was inconsistent with the original,” the statement said.

Ms Purcell disputed the suggestion that there was no human element to the situation. A representative for Adobe, which owns Photoshop, said the image edits “would have required human intervention and approval.”

Nine, the company that owns 9News, did not respond to emailed requests for clarification. The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, which is also owned by Nine, reported that the company said it had “confirmed that there was human intervention in the decision to use the image.”

Some commentators familiar with working with Photoshop have suggested that if artificial intelligence is to blame, the modifications could have been made using a Photoshop tool that fills the white space above or below an image with a continuation of the automatically generated image. Others, like Rob Nicholls, a professor at the University of Technology Sydney, said the changes could have been made with an auto-enhance feature, similar to selfie filters that alter a person's facial features.

Transmitting the image, apparently without anyone verifying that it was an accurate representation of Ms Purcell, shows that “using AI without strict editorial controls risks making very significant errors,” he said.

The incident shows that AI can replicate existing biases, he added. “I don't think it's a coincidence that these issues tend to be gender related. “

Ms. Purcell said she believed similar edits made to images of other lawmakers would not have been allowed to be broadcast, but in her case they were because of her background. “I'm young, I'm blonde, I'm covered in tattoos, I have a past in sex work,” she said. “At the very least, she has started a very important conversation about the mistreatment of women in public life.”


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