This is just so stupid.

Moving Target

Far-right Facebook was sent spiraling last week over so-called images of children wearing what looked to be Target merchandise covered in Satanic imagery. These people, however, are idiots, and all of the images in question — which also included depictions of Satanic horned mannequins, because that's also something that a major retailer would definitely put in suburban shopping centers — were AI-generated fakes.

"Look at the faces on these children, I feel in my spirit, they even knew there was something satanic with making them be photographed with these clothes on," reads one such post, shared on May 30 by the administrators of a Facebook group called Christian Patriots. "If you are a Christian and a parent and you shop at Target, Lord, have mercy on you."

"Is this for real?" asked one skeptical commenter.

"Unfortunately it is," the page's admin responded.

But again, unfortunately for these good ol' Christian Patriots, it isn't for real. The images were AI-generated by a Facebook user named Dan Reese, who first posted the phony pictures to a Facebook group called "AI Art Universe" and separately confirmed to Reuters that the images in question were created using the text-to-image AI system Midjourney.

The images of Satan-worshipping tykes — one of whom was depicted with tattoos, by the way — may not have been real, but watching people lose their minds over these fake images as if they were real is clearly a new layer of AI-driven internet hell.

Seeing Is Believing

A spokesperson from Target also confirmed to Reuters that the retailer "has never sold" the products depicted in the images, because of course they haven't, since they don't actually exist. And for its part, Facebook has thankfully marked the images as phony, but not before other Facebookers sank their teeth into the conspiracy.

"Target has really gone over the edge," reads one May 28 post decrying the fake merchandise, which was shared by other users 162 times. "They need to go away too." Then, asked by one user where she had found the images, the poster simply responded "the web," adding that there "are more if you google." So, some really promising media literacy happening in this corner of the internet.

Culture Warriors

Target has recently found itself in the throes of the anti-trans and homophobic culture wars, mainly as the result of the retailer's offering gender-affirming and pride-friendly clothing for kids. And to that end, the photos were seemingly created as a joke mocking anti-Target far-righters — some of whom, in a particularly ironic turn, then took the images at truth and ran.

Anyway, really looking forward to 2024!

More on AI-generated pictures: People Keep Posting Phony AI-Generated Images of Trump Getting Arrested

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