By now a lot of people have seen the story covered on Fast Company’s blog and featured on LinkedIn. In an effort to influence Art Directors, Graphic Designers and Photo Retouchers who use Photoshop, Dove Canada and their agency of record Ogilvy and Mather(Toronto) cooked up a Photoshop Action for distribution. Photoshop Actions are basically recordings of a series of Photoshop steps that can be played over and over again on different images. When you have dozens of images that all need the same touch-up steps performed on them, an Action can be a real time saver. Actions are often shared among Photoshop Users, and popular Actions are available for download many places on the Web.
What Dove Canada and Ogilvy Toronto did was create a Photoshop Action that reversed everything previously done to an image. They then featured this Action on Reddit and other sites, presenting it as a useful retouching tool. Visitors who downloaded the Action and applied it to an image got to watch all of their work disappear. It’s important to note that the effect of an Action can be reversed in Photoshop, so no real harm was done to the image.
Whether or not this was a sincere effort to make a statement, or just a PR stunt, it was just plain wrong. Any download that is mis-represented which then performs an action on the Visitor’s computer is a Trojan, no matter how benign. To those who would argue that no one got hurt, how about the people who panicked watching their work disappear? How about the reputations of sites like Reddit? Anyone bothered to ask Adobe how they feel about it?
Allowing this kind of behavior because “no one got hurt” is a very slippery slope. Trojans. They are wrong. Let’s leave it at that.