Protocol | Workplace

Adobe wants you to show your work and fight stolen NFTs

Adobe's Content Credentials feature will allow Creative Cloud subscribers to attach edit-tracking information to Photoshop files. The goal is to create a more trustworthy NFT market and digital landscape.

Screenshot of an Adobe image’s Content Credentials

Adobe's Content Credentials will allow users to attach their identities to an image

Image: Adobe

Remember the viral, fake photo of Kurt Cobain and Biggie Smalls that duped and delighted the internet in 2017? Doctored images manipulate people and erode trust and we're not great at spotting them. The entire point of the emerging NFT art market is to create valuable and scarce digital files and when there isn't an easy way to check for an image's origin and edits, there's a problem. What if someone steals an NFT creator's image and pawns it off as their own? As a hub for all kinds of multimedia, Adobe feels a responsibility to combat misinformation and provide a safe space for NFT creators. That's why it's rolling out Content Credentials, a record that can be attached to a Photoshop file of a creator's identity and includes any edits they made.

Users can connect their social media addresses and crypto wallet addresses to images in Photoshop. This further proves the image creator's identity, but it's also helpful in determining the creators of NFTs. Adobe has partnered with NFT marketplaces KnownOrigin, OpenSea, Rarible and SuperRare in this effort. "Today there's not a way to know that the NFT you're buying was actually created by a true creator," said Adobe General Counsel Dana Rao. "We're allowing the creator to show their identity and attach it to the image."

Thomas Smith, CEO of AI-driven photography agency Gado Images, said this is a crucial step in addressing the issue of verifying NFT creator identities. The blockchain aspect of NFTs easily confirms the minting of an NFT, but confirming the artistic value of the NFT has been difficult thus far. "I could download an image someone else took, mint an NFT from it, and pretend it's mine," Smith said. "That erodes the value of NFTs." Now creators can tie their crypto wallet to their Photoshop.

Scott Belsky, chief product officer, spoke with The Verge about Adobe making it easier for NFT collectors to see both who created the NFT and who minted it on the blockchain. NFTs are all about authenticity, and with Content Credentials, people can embed their identity directly into a file. Belsky compared it to the verification badge on Twitter: "Imagine a world where you favor buying NFTs from artists with a cryptographic signature that you know that they actually made it, as opposed to one who doesn't have that cryptographic signature," he told The Verge.

Adobe will launch Content Credentials in public beta, along with a wave of other new features, at today's Adobe MAX conference, an annual event complete with a plethora of famous speakers and informational sessions for creatives. Another release in Adobe's Creative Cloud suite is the extension of Photoshop and Illustrator to the web. Anyone, not just Creative Cloud subscribers, can view and comment on these files through a URL. Subscribers can make light edits right within the browser.

Other new features include a collaboration and whiteboarding tool called "Creative Cloud Spaces and Canvas," the acquisition of video-collaboration platform, updates to video and photo editing and more monetization options for creatives using Behance, Adobe's social media platform. Creative Cloud subscribers can offer Patreon-esque subscriptions without Behance taking any of the pay.

Content Credentials are a part of the Content Authenticity Initiative, a partnership Adobe announced with Twitter and The New York Times in 2019. The goal is to make records of ownership and authenticity a norm when creating and sharing media online. Rao said the 38-year-old company is uniquely prepared to address this problem. "As we stared at the landscape, we really felt like the piece that was missing was transparency," Rao said. "If you're using our tool, we're able to share with people who took that photo and where it was taken and when, and we also know what edits were made."

When a creator decides to apply credentials to their image, that metadata is secured and encrypted with the image. For example, it would record any imported images or artificial intelligence tools that were applied to the file. Rao emphasized that no encryption is completely invulnerable, but if someone did try to tamper with an image and its credentials, users would see a clear gap in the recording of edits.

Creators can turn on credentials in Photoshop, and they are attached to Adobe's Stock images by default. Anyone, even those without a Creative Cloud account, can check out credentials on Verify, a tool that analyzes images. They'll also be visible on Behance. Rao said Adobe's partners in the Content Authenticity Initiative, like Getty Images, are building credentials as well. "It's an open standard," Rao said. "Anyone can build an implementation, not just Adobe." The idea is to make Content Credentials a standard across platforms, so people truly understand the origins of images and videos.

Smith is excited by this first step into a more trustworthy digital landscape. He's a part of the Content Authenticity Initiative through the Digital Media Licensing Association, and like Rao, believes strongly that credentials should be adopted at every step of the image creation/publication process. "The ultimate vision is to bring everyone in literally from the hardware level all the way up through publication," Smith said. "I snap the photo on my Android phone, it's signed in the image the second I take it."

Standardized content credentials could have huge implications for media, politics and human rights. Smith pointed out that verifying where and when an image is taken can be useful in documenting abuse, or even linking medical imagery to patients. "This is very important outside of NFTs and the creative industry," he said.

Creative Cloud subscribers have to opt in to include credentials, mainly for privacy reasons. Adobe doesn't want to force people to disclose their identity or specific circumstances behind their image. The necessary outcome of this is "if you want to be trusted, you're going to go through this process, and if you're someone out there trying to deceive people, you're not going to show them what you did to the image," Rao said.

But it's a start, giving creators a tool to protect the integrity of their image. The next milestones will be building something similar for video and audio, and spreading the word so an average person knows that credentials exist — something Rao believes should fit into a larger, government-sponsored digital literacy campaign. "We want to show everybody that this thing works," Rao said. "The next step will be part of this education piece."

Protocol | Workplace

CTO to CEO: The case for putting the tech expert in charge

Parag Agrawal is one of the few tech industry CTOs to nab the top job. But the tides may be shifting.

Parag Agrawal’s appointment to Twitter's CEO seat is already alerting a new generation of CTOs that the top job may not be so out of reach.

Photo: Twitter

Parag Agrawal’s ascension to CEO of Twitter is notable for a few reasons. For one, at 37, he’s now the youngest CEO of an S&P 500 company, beating out Mark Zuckerberg. For another, his path to the top as a CTO-turned-CEO is still relatively rare in the corporate world.

His leap suggests that CEO succession trends may be shifting, as technology increasingly takes the center stage in business and strategy decisions not just for tech companies, but for the business world more broadly.

Keep Reading Show less
Michelle Ma

Michelle Ma (@himichellema) is a reporter at Protocol, where she writes about management, leadership and workplace issues in tech. Previously, she was a news editor of live journalism and special coverage for The Wall Street Journal. Prior to that, she worked as a staff writer at Wirecutter. She can be reached at

The fintech developers who made mobile banking as routine as texting or online shopping aren't done. The next frontier for innovation is open banking – fintech builders are enabling consumers to be at the center of where and how their data is used to provide the services they want and need.

Most people don't even realize they're using open banking services today. If they connected their investment and banking accounts in a personal financial management solution or app, they're using open banking. Perhaps they've seen ads about how they can improve their credit score by uploading pay stubs or utility records to that same app – this is also powered by open banking.

Keep Reading Show less
Bob Schukai
Bob Schukai is Executive Vice President of Technology Development, New Digital Infrastructure & Fintech at Mastercard, where he leads the technical design, execution and support of innovative open banking and fintech solutions, as well as next generation technologies to support global payment and data capabilities. Prior to Mastercard, Schukai’s work focused on cognitive computing, financial technology, blockchain, user experience and digital identity. He is also a member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Protocol | Workplace

Google contractor says she was fired for 'ungoogley' behavior

According to a charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board, "ungoogley" is Google's term for having a bad attitude.

A contractor at Google staffing firm Modis claims she was fired from her job after asking about pay.

Photo: Future Publishing/Getty Images

A contractor at Google staffing firm Modis claims she was fired from her job for "ungoogley" behavior after asking about holiday pay at a meeting with management, according to a charge filed with the National Labor Relations Board by a lawyer for the Alphabet Workers Union.

Tuesday Carne said in an interview with Protocol that she was fired after just nine days of working in the data contracting facility in South Carolina. Carne's termination letter (which Protocol reviewed) called her behavior at the meeting "unacceptable and 'ungoogley'" and claimed that her behavior was the reason for her firing.

Keep Reading Show less
Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email:, where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

Protocol | Policy

Biden FCC nominee Sohn is walking a tightrope with Republicans

Gigi Sohn faces plenty of GOP opposition, but the longtime net-neutrality advocate is hoping to pick up a little Republican support as she deals with Democrats’ narrow margins.

Gigi Sohn’s work for net neutrality has become an issue in her confirmation hearings for the FCC.

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Gigi Sohn wouldn’t mind getting support from a Republican or two, and it’d certainly make her path back to the Federal Communications Commission easier.

During her Senate Commerce Committee confirmation on Wednesday, Sohn, a progressive favorite and longtime net-neutrality advocate, touted her commitment to ensuring a diversity of voices on the airwaves, her past fights for small conservative networks she personally disagrees with and her habit of socializing with those she battles on policy.

Keep Reading Show less
Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

Protocol | Workplace

Microsoft Teams is going after small businesses

Microsoft Teams Essentials offers longer, bigger meetings for a relatively small price tag.

Companies can now buy a standalone version of Teams.

Photo: Mika Baumeister/Unsplash

Microsoft announced Wednesday that companies can now buy a standalone version of Teams — one of its most important products and a major player in work messaging and video chat, alongside Slack and Zoom. The product, called Microsoft Teams Essentials, aims to give small or medium-sized businesses a communication hub that costs less than its competitors'.

Microsoft will charge small businesses $4 per user per month for Microsoft Teams Essentials, while Zoom’s cheapest paid plan is $14.99 per user per month and Slack’s is $6.67 per user each month, when billed annually. The free version of Microsoft Teams still exists, as do the various other Microsoft 365 plans that include Teams. Teams Essentials offers longer meeting times, larger group meetings and more cloud storage.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at

Latest Stories