Fake images of Donald Trump surface on social media and spark widespread confusion
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Featured Image Credit: Twitter
Doctored photographs depicting former US President Donald Trump being arrested are making their way across the internet, confusing the heck out of people on social media.
The thing is that none of the events depicted in any of the images actually happened.
But it isn't just the fake photos of Trump's pretend arrest that have tongues wagging.
Sensationalized images of Russian president Vladimir Putin sitting in a gray jail cell have also surfaced, and are just as false as the Trump shots.
The highly detailed images come as Trump faces possible criminal charges in the US and the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Putin.
Making pictures of Trump getting arrested while waiting for Trump's arrest. pic.twitter.com/4D2QQfUpLZ— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) March 20, 2023
So where did the fakes come from?
The images - plus a number of variations across social media - were produced using increasingly sophisticated image generators powered by artificial intelligence.
Maybe the robot revolution is here after all.
Professor Jevin West of the University of Washington in Seattle studies the impact misinformation can have on the broader public.
He told AP the images usher in the dawn of a new age: fake photos and videos appearing on social media to further muddy the line between fact and fiction.
"It does add noise during crisis events. It also increases the cynicism level," he said.
Creating something like a realistic McDonald's restaurant was very difficult, mainly because Midjourney can't handle text very well in images. Here I had to specifically ask for the golden arches to be included, which likely rendered successfully because it's such a distinct… pic.twitter.com/oh3oiIR07t— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) March 23, 2023
He added to AP: “You start to lose trust in the system and the information that you are getting."
Netherlands-based investigative journalist Eliot Higgins said the AI tools like Midjourney can be used to create a veritable trove of fake images that capture Trump's fictional arrest.
The reporter told AP the images got him thrown out of the Midjourney server.
"The Trump arrest image was really just casually showing both how good and bad Midjourney was at rendering real scenes," Higgins told AP.
"The images started to form a sort of narrative as I plugged in prompts to Midjourney, so I strung them along into a narrative, and decided to finish off the story."
Does this mean Trump will get banned from Midjourney too? https://t.co/Bxk1ImXbD5— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) March 23, 2023
But the reporter said he had expected more from the critical thinkers out there in the general public.
"I had assumed that people would realize Donald Trump has two legs, not three, but that appears not to have stopped some people passing them off as genuine, which highlights that lack of critical thinking skills in our educational system."
So, to sum up: Trump is not arrested at the moment and Putin is not in prison.
Just to be clear.