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The Kate Middleton photo scandal is a rare — and consequential — flub

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Photo by Paul Ellis / AFP via Getty Images

Kate Middleton’s botched photo editing job seen around the world is more than just catnip for tabloids and TikTok conspiracy theorists. It’s also the most instructive illustration of the AI-flecked new reality we live in, a maelstrom formed when distrust and established processes converge and create chaos.

It’s hard to know what Middleton, aka the Princess of Wales and future Queen of England, was thinking when she allegedly edited her own photo so sloppily that it’s become front-page news in a bunch of countries. Shortly after the image was shared publicly, the world’s biggest wire agencies, like The Associated Press, Getty, and Reuters, issued retraction alerts — called “kill notices” — instructing media outlets to not use the image…

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