In a World of Fakes, Trump’s Real Mug Shot Matters

For months, Etsy has been flooded with a new type of T-shirt: a photo of Donald Trump. They come in two main styles: Guity AF and Not Guilty. Adorned with pictures of the former US president, the jerseys looked as though they had just been ordered, but until recently, they were fake — most of them unconvincing. Etsy sellers have been uploading the content to the platform since at least March, as Trump was indicted on multiple alleged crimes. Even Trump’s own campaign released a fake mugshot T-shirt to raise money.

But yesterday, the 2024 Republican presidential candidate finally faced a criminally traditional mug shot in Georgia, where he was accused of trying to overturn the state’s 2020 election results. This is the fourth indictment against Trump, who is currently facing 91 felony charges in four jurisdictions. Trump insisted he “did not commit a crime.”

In an age where manipulated images capture our attention, a photo of Trump’s real face — a simple, poorly lit photo — has garnered historic hype. That’s not to say the photo itself is notable — Trump, one of the most recognizable faces in the world, opted for a frown, his trademark serious expression, when photographed.

Still, it’s the first photo of the president of the United States. (Judicial officials in the former president’s other three criminal cases opted to skip that part of the process.) Despite its simplicity, the photo could go down as one of the most important photos Trump has ever taken.

“An AI-generated thing, no matter how good it is, will eventually be seen as AI-generated,” said Jonathan Finn, a professor of communication at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario. , who is also the author of this book. Capturing Criminal Imagery: From Mugshots to Surveillance Society. But the real mugshot “will last forever. It will have all the history and associations associated with it.”

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After Trump’s photo was released last night, it flooded the internet, displacing fake Spread the word before the real thing is released. It’s popping up on Instagram Stories, memes, and on Trump’s own social network, Truth Social. After turning himself in to Georgia authorities, Trump even made his first posts on X (formerly known as Twitter), since his account was reinstated by Elon Musk late last year. “Meddle in Elections, Never Surrender” postal Featured in pictures.

Mugshots serve a practical purpose: to identify people accused of crimes and document their physical condition at the time of arrest. But media coverage of crimes, including mugshots, has fueled harmful stereotypes about people of color, leading to disproportionately high arrest rates for people of color. Their publications can also result in a person being charged with a crime before they receive a fair trial.

But Trump finds himself in a different position, and viewers of this mugshot may be divided: Those who support Trump may see a man wrongly accused, while those who believe he is guilty may see This is a validation of their faith.

Trump’s mugshot has gone beyond its intended purpose of linking him to alleged crimes in Georgia. Different political stances shared via mugshots on social media, and even satirical uses, push the images out of their original context. This is a common phenomenon with online posts: when images and posts reach large audiences, they experience what is known as context breakdown. When a post spreads widely to other groups, the intent and consensus around the post’s origin evaporates. This is already happening as people do something about mugshot memes or stick them on party t-shirts.

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Sam Gregory, executive director of Witness, said: “I think there’s going to be a breakdown of context around any salient imagery, whether it’s intentional or unintentional, that might be used by different groups, knowingly or not. misinterpreted or misunderstood.” Protecting Human Rights. With multiple versions of Trump’s photo circulating online, people may have different memories and associations of this historical event. “We’ll remember the one we saw against the backdrop that’s memorable to us,” Gregory said.

A search of Trump photos on Etsy this morning revealed that many of the new products are genuine. The Trump campaign is putting the photo on mugs, T-shirts and cookies. Fakes still exist and some people get scammed. But the real photo of Trump will go down in the history books.

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