Georgie Purcell: Adobe casts doubt that Photoshop automation was to blame for Nine News editing of her image

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The Victorian upper house MP Georgie Purcell has lashed Nine News in Melbourne for using an image edited to make her breasts look bigger and expose her midriff, which the network blamed on “automation by Photoshop”.

But Adobe has cast doubt on Nine News’s claim about its software, after the network broadcast the image during Monday night’s bulletin.

The program’s news director, Hugh Nailon, apologised to the upper house Animal Justice Party MP on Tuesday for the “graphic error”, and blamed “automation by Photoshop”.

“Our graphics department sourced an online image of Georgie to use in our story on duck hunting. As is common practice, the image was resized to fit our specs,” he said.

“During that process, the automation by Photoshop created an image that was not consistent with the original. This did not meet the high editorial standards we have and for that we apologise to Ms Purcell unreservedly.”

But in a statement on Tuesday afternoon, a spokesperson for Adobe said use of its generative AI features would have required “human intervention”.

“Any changes to this image would have required human intervention and approval,” the spokesperson said.

Purcell said she realised the image had been edited when she compared it to the original, taken in 2023.

She said it had topped off the “worst” day she had since she was first elected, given the government’s decision to reject a ban on duck hunting.

I endured a lot yesterday.

But having my body and outfit photoshopped by a media outlet was not on my bingo card.

Note the enlarged boobs and outfit to be made more revealing.

Can’t imagine this happening to a male MP.

What gives? pic.twitter.com/NhnkDRMidc

— Georgie Purcell (@georgievpurcell) January 29, 2024

“I endured a lot yesterday, but having my body and outfit Photoshopped by the media wasn’t on my bingo card. It’s not abnormal for politicians to have catastrophic days at work. I’m not afraid to say yesterday was the worst I’ve had so far,” she said in a statement to Guardian Australia.

“Unfortunately, the difference for women is that they also have to deal with the constant sexualisation and objectification that comes with having images leaked, distorted and AI generated.”

Purcell said the incident was another example of the discrimination and barriers that women in politics face.

“Let’s be clear – this is not something that happens to my male colleagues,” she said.

“The message this sends to young women and girls across Victoria is that even at the top of your field, your body is always up for grabs.”

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The upper house MP said she was hopeful the “sexist editing” wouldn’t overshadow the work of the female reporter who put together the news package, or her continuous fight for a ban on duck shooting.

“For now, at least I know what I’d look like with a boob job and chiselled abs,” Purcell said.

Melbourne-based Photoshop tutor David Ewing said the editing of the photo was “no accident”.

“The [statement] has an underlying tone that Photoshop has done this with a mind of its own, but that mind needs to be told what to do, so that means selecting the top and telling it to make it shorter and then that process is automated,” he told Guardian Australia.

“Photoshop would do nothing by itself other than open the photo. Someone has told Photoshop how to edit a part of the image that they have selected.”

The Victorian premier, Jacinta Allan, who also appeared in the graphic but whose image did not appear to be edited, said the incident was concerning.

“That’s no way to represent any woman, let alone a woman who holds a position in public office, represents a community and is in the public discourse every single day,” she told reporters.

“Let’s think about the message that it sends, particularly to young women, the distorted images that women see day after day.”

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