"We are witnessing a new form of 'anticipatory disinformation.'"
People are spreading AI-generated images of Donald Trump getting arrested before it's even happened — assuming it actually does, that is — because that's the world we live in now, apparently.
As The Daily Beast reports — and as Twitter users have been posting about to the point of virality — folks who can't wait for Trump to actually get arrested over charges reportedly related to his ancient "hush money" payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels have taken to posting AI-generated images to suggest that he's already been arrested.
These images and the Trump-promoted claim that the former president is going to be arrested today happen to coincide with the release of the latest version of the powerful Midjourney image generator. Indeed, last week Bellingcat founder and creative director Eliot Higgins prompted the AI to create an "entirely fictional [Trump] perp walk," the results of which have the same feel as the other images being passed off as the real thing on Twitter dot com.
Making pictures of Trump getting arrested while waiting for Trump's arrest. pic.twitter.com/4D2QQfUpLZ
— Eliot Higgins (@EliotHiggins) March 20, 2023
Brave New World
In an interview with the Daily Beast, Harvard misinformation expert and researcher Joan Donavan affirmed that "unfortunately, these tools for creating realistic images are very useful for hoaxing the public."
"We are witnessing a new form of 'anticipatory disinformation,'" she told the site, "where rumors are made into reality through the creation of media covering events that never happened."
While looking at these posts closely reveals little clues that they're AI-generated, those who see them in the wild — and especially those who have a vested interest in the story, regardless of which side of the political spectrum they may fall on — might not pick up on those nuances.
Donald Trump von der Polizei festgenommen #DonaldTrump #AI pic.twitter.com/0O9HoHMYhY
— Goran Majić ☮️🇪🇺🇭🇷🇩🇪🇺🇸🇮🇱🇯🇵🇺🇦 (@Goran_Majic) March 21, 2023
With concerns over political deepfakes going back years, with the Pentagon announcing back in 2019 that the burgeoning technology is a national security issue (while, of course, developing their own ways to use it), it was only a matter of time before something like this happened.
For now, we have experts who can definitively say that the images people are seeing are phony — but will that be the case after the next update to the tech, or when someone with an interest in obscuring the truth declares them real?
How #AI sees Donald Trump getting arrested and sitting in prison #midjourney pic.twitter.com/bzrcGKKOS3
— Christian Aglen (@ChristianAglen) March 21, 2023
More on AI imagery: Watch Out, Folks: AI Image Generators Can Do Hands Now