Chilling AI deepfakes purporting to show Trump arrest take over Twitter

AI-generated images show officers restraining Trump as he tries to flee

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Friday 24 March 2023 14:39 GMT
Protesters shout Trump is ‘guilty’ ahead of anticipated indictment

AI-generated deepfakes showing Donald Trump making a run from authorities and being arrested have flooded Twitter ahead of the former president’s possible indictment.

Mr Trump could be indicted by a Manhattan grand jury as soon as next week and potentially charged with falsifying business records connected to hush money payments during his 2016 campaign to adult film actor Stormy Daniels.

An indictment in New York would make Mr Trump the first former president to face a criminal charge.

The fabricated images, now viewed over 4 million times, show Mr Trump resisting as officers resembling those from the New York Police Department attempt to restrain him.

Some images fabricated scenarios where the 45th president is seen struggling to run away from the officers.

There has been a surge in online threats directed at government and political officials ahead of the rumoured indictment, with plans for what one commenter called “January 6 times ten”.

“Making pictures of Trump getting arrested while waiting for Trump's arrest,” wrote Eliot Higgins, founder of investigative collective Bellingcat, while sharing a series of deepfake images.

He said the images were created using artificial intelligence text-to-image generator Midjourney.

Mr Higgings said that, for several images, he submitted the text prompt, “Donald Trump falling over while getting arrested. Fibonacci Spiral. News footage”.

The fake images show garbled text on the police officers’ uniforms, along with distorted faces and hands. One image shows Mr Trump wearing a police belt.

The deepfakes include Melania Trump, along with the former president’s son, Donald Trump Jr protesting the arrest.

Another widely circulating fabricated image – depicting five officers holding Mr Trump by his arms – was not created by Mr Higgins, but shows hallmarks of some AI-generated images.

“The Trump arrest image was really just casually showing both how good and bad Midjourney was at rendering real scenes, like the first image has Trump with three legs and a police belt,” Mr Higgins told the Associated Press.

“I had assumed that people would realise Donald Trump has two legs, not three, but that appears not to have stopped some people passing them off as genuine, which highlights that lack of critical thinking skills in our educational system.”

Another fake image, an AI-generated mugshot of Mr Trump shared by Twitter user called O’Keefe Reborn, has also been making rounds on the social media platform.

Some of the images were share widely by Twitter users, who falsely claimed them to be real pictures.

Meanwhile, the New York Police Department has confirmed there has been no such arrest.

“Donald Trump has not been taken into custody by the New York City Police Department,” the agency said in a statement on Tuesday.

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