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I’m sure by now many of you will have seen the now famous photograph below. The image depicts a Manchester City street on New Years Eve 2015, made popular through a tweet by BBC news producer Roland Hughes. The tweet made its way across the web, being copied, re-shared, and republished countless times, becoming  a viral hit over new year’s weekend. There’s a detailed post on the BBC about the image’s viral growth, which you can read here.

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Photo by Joel Goodman

What interested me the most about this story, other than the fantastic photograph itself, was the following line taken from the BBC news article:

My immediate pang of guilt came from the fact I hadn’t credited Joel on the initial tweet, something I tried to quickly rectify.

But it made little difference – my initial tweet didn’t say who took it, so he didn’t get all the credit he deserved.

Roland didn’t credit Joel Goodman in his tweet. It’s an honest mistake to make  as Roland himself admits. I mean how often do we ever consider the source of images in the context of updating our status, sharing memes, or re-sharing  photos taken by those we follow? I think it’s pretty safe to say that it’s a rare occurrence.

In Rowland’s line of work as a news producer, it would seem a little surprising that he didn’t consider the image’s source at the time of publishing. I’m sure, had he posted it as an article on the BBC, he would have never clicked publish without the appropriate image credit.

I feel we would be adding a good deal of value to the web if we could find a solution to the friction that exists when crediting the work of others online.

So how can we use all this clever technology we create and find a solution that can address the crediting of original content creators on social media?

It seems feasible that Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like could easily tap into media content to display details of the author as a simple caption, complete with hyperlink back to a personal site or social media account.

If we could utilise metadata, creation timestamps combined with original upload timestamps, and canonical links, we could help reduce the friction of crediting original creators of content.

Tied in with powerful automatic image matching, duplicate images could easily be identified and captioned with the original creator’s details, complete with canonical links back to original posts.

Sounds pretty nifty to me, and would save Rowland the effort of manually crediting photographers in Tweets in the future. I hope the clever folks in Silicon Valley get their fingers out and sort this some day soon 😉

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