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Research Guides

Artificial Intelligence for Image Research

A guide on how to use Generative AI for image generation, editing, concept creation and development.

Truth and Deepfakes

r/midjourney - The Pope Drip

You might have seen this image of the Pope circulating social media and new outlets sometime around March of 2023. Generated by Midjourney and posted on the Midjourney Reddit page, this image has taken social networks by storm. Outlandish and spectacular enough to generate traffic, while straddling the thin line between fake and possibly real (due to the Pope's infamous appearances in stylish clothing or material luxury).

While this example is playful, malicious users can create politically inflammatory imagery and pass it off as real. Oftentimes, these images are tied to current events to make them seem believable.

For example:

This image of former US president Donald Trump was circulated on Twitter by a journalist playing around on Midjourney while awaiting the results of the indictment filed against Donald Trump.




This image of American Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez holding hands with Elon Musk, was released during which a fake Twitter account impersonating and mocking the Congresswoman was being promoted by Twitter, placed top in search rankings, and promoted through constant interactions with Elon Musk's own Twitter account. For context, Elon Musk was the CEO of Twitter at the time.

While this image looks far less convincing up close, containing a strange ethereal quality and not being very realistic. Keep in mind it was viewed over phone screens and application thumbnails, which show the image at a far smaller size.