Nov 262017

Can of BeansIn this ever connected world, it is pretty easy for anyone to say anything or to be anybody.

In the real world, you can tell a lie and as long as the person that you told it to does not have the ability to easily debunk it, you can get away with it for a very long time.

‘Oh yeah, I met so-and-so at $vague-venue in vague-year’  is pretty much impossible to prove or disprove and in general the onus lies on the recipient to prove or disprove, or to just accept and wonder.

Obviously the liar has to remember all of these lies and this requires either a brilliant recall of the lies that have been told to who, or it required that liar to simply not care.

In the real world a liar has just the stories to bolster their ego.

Of course there are some famous cases of people telling lies and getting away with it for year, but in general it is pretty easy to catch out a liar in real life.

The on-line world though makes it way more difficult and potentially a whole lot more dangerous, but I would like to propose a system that helps to catch people out.

Consider this lie in a WhatsApp group conversation.

  • EvoDude72 ‘I have a 600hp Evo as my daily driver’

This is a lie, EvoDude72 drives his mothers Corsa D and although he has Evo posters all over his bedroom wall, the closest he has ever got to one is seeing one in Tesco’s car park.

An easy call out

  • TruthSeaker45 ‘Cool, run outside and take a picture of it for us’
  • EvoDude72 ‘It is being fixed at the moment the head gasket blew when I added the NOS to it.
  • TruthSeaker45 ‘Which garage is it at ?’
  • EvoDude72 ‘My mate’s garage, he is ex-ProDrive and goes work on the side.

As you can see this lie started simple, EvoDude told a group that he has a high performance car, on being called out, he dug a little deeper.

  • TruthSeaker45 ‘When are you going to get it back ?
  • EvoDude72 ‘Dunno – maybe next week’

A week later

  • TruthSeaker45 ‘Hey @EvoDude72 – got your car back yet’
  • EvoDude72 ‘Yeah, it faster than ever’
  • TruthSeaker45 ‘Do you have a tin of beans in the cupboards’
  • EvoDude72 ‘Erm, why ?’
  • TruthSeaker45 ‘Go grab the beans and put them in the cup holder of your Evo and take a photo for us please’
  • EvoDude72 ‘My camera is broken’
  • Everyone ‘You do not have an Evo, I bet you still live at home and driver your mom’s Corsa’

EvoDude72 will then leave the chat, exposed for what he is, a liar.

In this case it is pretty innocuous, EvoDude72 was trying to show off, gain attention, perhaps adoration, by making up the story of his Evo. But a few simple steps called him out.

But what if the the person is more malicious than that ?

What if the person is a predator looking for young girls (or boys) ?

Consider this conversation in WhatsApp

  • LonelyJenny05 ‘Hello everyone, I’m Jenny and I just moved to $town.
  • Allie2005 ‘Hi Jenny, how old are you ?
  • LonelyJenny05 ‘I’m twelve, and you
  • Allie2005 ‘I’ll be 12 in a few weeks
  • LonelyJenny05 ‘It was just my birthday, I did not have a party

editors note: ‘LonelyJenny05 is a middle aged man that preys on young girls.

The conversation will eventually turn to looks,

  • LonelyJenny05 ‘People say I am ugly, here is a photo of me’ 
  • Allie2005 ‘I would not say you are ugly.
  • LonelyJenny05 ‘What do you look like ? ‘

editors note: The image above is a generic one from Getty images.

Allie2005 would probably now post a picture of herself and the conversation would continue, perhaps ‘Jenny’ is not happy with something about her appearance and wants to compare photos. It is not hard to imagine how this could lead to something of a sexual nature being given to ‘Jenny’ in exchange for images from his stash of child porn.

So, how do we prevent this ?

I like the idea of the tin of beans above, and I also like the idea of giving our children some tools

  • Images have a whole lot of data associated with them including the date/time they were taken and often geotagging data. I like this tool a lot -
  • Many images are a part of the ‘tineye’ reverse image search repository.

. So, lets run this again and see if Allie2005 can call out Jenny ?

………The conversation will eventually turn to looks,

  • LonelyJenny05 ‘People say I am ugly, here is a photo of me’ 
  • Allie2005 ‘I would not say you are ugly. Tell me though, who took that photo, it is awfully good.
  • LonelyJenny05 ‘Oh, my uncle took it when we were is Greece last year.

So, lets see what happens when Allie2005 uses the tools above ?

The EXIF data has been scrubbed clean on the above image, there is literally nothing there. This is a major warning flag, no normal 12yo has a clue how to do this. Strike 1.

Tineye reveals that this image came from This is a pretty major strike.

Allie2005 now knows that LonelyJenny2005 is telling lies. Ideally she would simply block her and maybe report the conversation to her parents. But maybe she is a tad trusting…..

  • Allie2005 ‘Do you have any beans in the cupboard’
  • LonelyJenny05 ‘Why are you hungry’
  • Allie2005 ‘No – I want you to take a photo of yourself holding them, so that you can prove to me that you are not an old pervert please.

Two outcomes here – LonelyJenny05 disappears into the ether or Jenny actually is Jenny and she takes a photo with a tin of beans and makes a friend….

Beans are the answer, now what was the question ?

Footnote: While I originally wrote this to try to give our children a strategy fo knowing who they are talking to, it was quickly pointed out to me that this can be used for anything.

  • footiefan86 ‘I just got a 106inch TV to watch the match on’
  • soccamad99 ‘lets see a pic of it then’
  • footiefan86 **generic image of a big TV from google images**
  • soccamad99 ‘Stick a can of beans next to it and we might believe you’.
  • footiefan86 ‘my camera is broken’
  • soccamad99 ‘of course it is, enjoy the match on your 14 inch telly, loser.

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