Thursday, July 4, 2024

July 4, 2024

An image, posted this week to a Facebook page called "Summer Vibes," shows a smiling young woman with brunette hair. She's dressed in Army fatigues — although, quizzically, she's not wearing pants, and the mangled American flag patch on the arm of her jacket has only six stripes and zero stars. She's white. She's conventionally attractive. And crucially, this grinning young woman is seated in a wheelchair, implying that she's an injured or disabled veteran.

"Please don't swip [sic] up without giving some love," reads the image's garbled caption. "Without heroes,we [sic] are all plain people,and [sic] don't know how far we can go." (...)

Needless to say, the woman isn't real. She's AI-generated, and to many, that's obvious. In addition to the woefully incorrect American flag tacked onto the uniform, the last name that would normally appear on a soldier's pocket is an illegible clump of blobs that, when zoomed out, gives off only the semblance of lettering. Her teeth, eyes, and ears are also blurry and uncanny, as are her poorly defined hands.

And yet, despite these obvious flaws, the image has gone viral: at present, it has more than 62,000 reactions, nearly 5,000 comments, and 2,500 shares. And judging by the comments section? A lot of folks — particularly older men — absolutely think she's the real deal.

"Thank you for your sacrificial service to America and its citizens to maintain, [sic] our Republic, our Constitution and our God given [sic] rights and freedoms!" wrote one commenter, noting that he served in the military during the Vietnam war. "Thank you Summer, you are a beautiful, brave young lady!" he added, rounding the post out with heart, American flag, Statue of Liberty, and bald eagle emojis.

"Thank you my sister in arms," wrote another older man, "bless you for your service and dedication."

"Beautiful," added yet another. "Thank you for your service and prayers for healing and mercies and comfort from our Lord Jesus Christ Amen."

"Miss Beautiful USA!" yet another older guy chimed in. "THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE." (...)

AI is creeping further into political campaigns and election cycles worldwide, the United States' 2024 race included, and experts have repeatedly warned of the associated risks. Spamming the web with photos of attractive fake veterans, though an objectively lousy thing to do, is one thing. But after spending some time in the cursed land that is Facebook comments, it's hard not to come away with the uneasy sense that enough fake images could make a genuine dent in what a large group of individuals believes to be true.
[ed. More?]
We found it, you guys. We found the one piece of AI-generated Facebook sludge to rule them all.

As you've probably already read about or seen in the digital wild, Meta's flagship platform and former namesake Facebook is drowning in a fast-rising tide of AI-generate garbage. Spammers, ever eager to churn and burn through content, have taken to generative AI as a means of creating cheap and easily automatable virality-seeking imagery. And because this is Facebook, these fake images tend to center on themes and motifs that do well with the Boomer crowd that populates the platform: babies and kids, dogs, Jesus, pretty much anything America-coded — flags, bald eagles, cops, and so on — and US soldiers and veterans.

Which brings us to our Ultimate Pandering Sludge image, which falls into that last category. Published June 29 by an account simply titled "Babies adorable," the AI-spun image consists of a faceless figure in full Army garb, tactical vest and helmet included. Crucially, the figure is seated in a wheelchair — a hallmark of many of these spammy fake images, which often specifically depict disabled veterans — and is outfitted with two metal prosthetic legs. Both of these prosthetics, however, inexplicably extend into one giant, magnificent boot. Why? Who's to say! And like many of the other fake AI veterans being shared to Facebook, the soldier is holding a sympathy-clawing sign — although, we should note, it's pretty garbled.

"TODAY'S MY BIRTHDAY," reads the character's plea. "NO NO ONE LODE ME'S BECAUSE I'M POOR." (This seems to have been a bad AI attempt to generate the text "NO ONE LOVES ME BECAUSE I'M POOR," a phrase depicted in several other AI posts.)

Just incredible stuff. And overall, the image feels like an acute exhibit of the ways AI spammers are transforming Facebook into a parody of itself. 

by Maggie Harrison Dupre,  Futurism |  Read more: here and here
Images: Facebook
[ed. Have a  hot dog.]