The Book of Veles disinformation manipulation

October 2021
Updated: February 2022

A book by celebrated Magnum photographer Jonas Bendiksen documenting life in Veles, the 'fake news' capital of North Macedonia, turns out to be a work of disinformation itself.

Purporting to investigate disinformation production activities in a rural town notorious for its disinformation and misinformation factories, Bendiksen's The Book of Veles has been positively reviewed and screened at film festivals.

However, with Veles' disinformation industry in decline, Bendiksen had manipulated his photos using 3D software to make them more realistic. He also used a large language AI model to generate the accompanying commentary.

The author only confessed his manipulation after a Veles journalist took to Twitter to expose his fraudulent activities.

Magnum Photos continues to sell Bendiksen's book.

Operator: Magnum Photos
Developer:
Jonas Bendiksen
Country:
N Macedonia
Sector:
Media/entertainment/sports/arts
Purpose:
Expose mis/disinformation
Technology:
NLP/text analysis
Issue:
Manipulation; Mis/disinformation
Opacity:
Governance