Beverly Hills school expels pupils over AI fake nudes of classmates

The images were shared online and in messages in late February, officials said

Dan Gooding
Friday 08 March 2024 23:51 GMT
Beverly Hills school expels pupils over AI fake nudes of classmates
Beverly Hills school expels pupils over AI fake nudes of classmates (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A school in the California city of Beverly Hills has expelled five students after fake, AI-generated nudes of their classmates were shared online.

The images, in which students’ faces were superimposed onto nude bodies, came to the attention of Beverly Vista Middle School officials in late February.

At a meeting on Wednesday evening, the Beverly Hills Unified School District’s board voted to remove the five students who were the “most egregiously involved” in the creation and distribution of the material, according to The Los Angeles Times.

While the students were disciplined within 24 hours of the school finding out, officials avoided taking further action until a full investigation was completed.

District Superintendent Michael Bregy said in a letter to parents, seen by the outlet, that 16 students were involved, all in the eighth grade.

“This incident has spurred crucial discussions on the ethical use of technology, including AI, underscoring the importance of vigilant and informed engagement within digital environments,” Mr Bregy wrote.

“Furthermore, we recognize that kids are still learning and growing, and mistakes are part of this process. However, accountability is essential, and appropriate measures have been taken.”

The children and their families did not contest the decision to expel them.

The Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office are carrying out their own investigations, but so far no criminal charges have been brought.

It could be difficult to proceed with a criminal case, as while California law does cover possessing child pornography and sharing non-consensual nude photos, there is no precedent yet on fake photos impersonating real people.

The Beverly Hills case is just the latest in a string of AI or “deepfake” cases which overwhelmingly see women and girls targeted as the victims.

Schools in New Jersey and Washington state reported similar issues in the autumn, with lawmakers in NJ seeking to pass legislation banning the material.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC, a bill has been introduced seeking to “protect national security against the threats posed by deepfake technology and to provide legal recourse to victims of harmful deepfakes.”

The BHUSD did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment from The Independent Friday afternoon.

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