Experts are developing methods to verify photos and videos at the precise moment they’re taken, leaving no room for doubt about their authenticity. This portends a cynical future in which media must leave a detailed digital breadcrumb trail in order to be believed.

Some worry that if authentication becomes the default, people without access to verification technology — or who can’t give up sensitive information about their location — will lose out.

One possible outcome: a bifurcated world in which some photos and videos, published by those who can afford the tools and visibility, are accompanied by a green checkmark — but other media languish in obscurity and doubt.