Wednesday, April 22, 2020

That's a bit creepy again, FaceBook!

So, anyway, reasoning that life is too short to be completely serious all the time, I like to tell Dad Jokes. I'm really funny... or at least I think I am.

One of my recent jokes involved a picture, and it went like this...

This is my jar of jars. I call him JarJar. When I shake JarJar, he clinks...

I crack myself up, and as I usually do, I put it on FaceBook.

I am collecting my best (imho) jokes into a document called Grandad Jokes, for my unsuspecting grand kids to read one day, so the easiest way to get the photo onto the right pc was to simply save it from FaceBook.

I then imported it into Word, and this is where it got a bit creepy.

I saw this text appear on the bottom of the imported photo, just for a few seconds...

Wait ... what?.. Alt text? Where did that come from?

It said, "Alt text: A picture containing table, indoor, sitting, food"

Then I remembered reading a few months ago, that FaceBook automatically analysed all photo uploads, so that visually impaired people could have a photo described to them by a robot. While that, on the face of it, sounds very noble, I can't imagine it's terribly effective, because the description just isn't very accurate. I'm not saying FaceBook did anything wrong... it was just hidden and subtle. I may be being cynical, but I suspect that the real benefit is more along the lines of simple statistics for marketing.

Thank goodness that Word showed me, or I wouldn't have known.

One good thing was that I was able to confirm that, by default, FaceBook removes geo location data from the jpg.

A bit more poking around, and I found that I could right click the picture in Word, and one of the options was to edit the Alt Text. That meant that the Alt Text was in the jpg somewhere, but another slightly disquieting thing was that the text was not visible in the jpg, as plain text, so that means it is compressed, or obfuscated somehow, and that leads me to wonder what else might be in there?

I will keep poking.

Chalk up another score for the Privacy Revolution.

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