Explicit AI-Generated Taylor Swift Pics Circulate Online — X/Twitter in Damage Control

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Photo Credit: Cosmopolitan UK / CC by 3.0

Explicit AI-generated pictures of Taylor Swift begin circulating on social media, leading to X/Twitter doing damage control.

When explicit AI-generated fake pictures of Taylor Swift started circulating on X — formerly known as Twitter — her fans were quick to swarm the social media platform with real (not explicit) pictures of the star. This was an attempt to drown out the fakes otherwise dominating searches; fans also flagged the offending images en masse, leading to many accounts being banned for sharing content which violates X policies.

Specifically, X prohibits sharing “synthetic, manipulated, or out-of-context media that may deceive or confuse people and lead to harm.” And as those images were already viewed “tens of millions of times” before their removal from social media platforms, nothing on the internet can ever be truly considered gone forever, fake or not.

The incident comes amid growing concerns in the music industry and beyond about AI-generated images and videos that can lead to the spread of misinformation — particularly worrisome as the United States heads into a presidential election year.

X has effectively gutted its moderation team since its transition into Elon Musk rule, relying primarily on user reporting and automated systems, but most social media companies don’t really have plans in place to tackle the moderation of fakes. Similarly, Meta made significant cuts to its moderation teams that otherwise tackled coordinated harassment and disinformation campaigns.

“This is indicative of a larger kind of fracturing of content moderation and platform governance, because if all the stakeholders — the AI companies, social media companies, regulators, and civil society — are not talking about the same things and on the same page about how to address these issues, this type of content is just going to continue to proliferate,” said Ben Decker of digital investigations agency Memetica.

But Taylor Swift has the uncanny ability to bring people (including legislators) together. And perhaps the targeting of a star as significant as Taylor Swift will draw more attention to issues surrounding AI-generated imagery.