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AI (artificial intelligence) generated content has already been used in the 2024 presidential race, notably in a video released by the RNC showing a future Biden-dystopian society. Now, the Ron DeSantis presidential campaign has employed the technology, but with a notable difference.
Team DeSantis released a Donald Trump attack ad criticizing the former President for not firing the polarizing Dr. Anthony Fauci, former Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and former Chief Medical Advisor to the President. In the 44-second ad released Monday, clips are used of Trump saying his infamous “You’re fired!” catchphrase from his time on the reality television show, The Apprentice. Child-like nursery music plays in the background as these images of strength and decisive executive action are contrasted with Trump making complimentary comments about Fauci and explaining why he didn’t fire him during his contentious handling of the COVID pandemic.
It’s a strong condemnation from Team DeSantis, but what was not disclosed is raising eyebrows.
Donald Trump became a household name by FIRING countless people *on television*
But when it came to Fauci… pic.twitter.com/7Lxwf75NQm
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) June 5, 2023
In the ad, AI images are used depicting the former President hugging and even kissing Fauci. Above the images, the words “REAL LIFE TRUMP” appear on the screen. Not only are many of the images shown “‘deepfakes,” or AI-generated, the text implies that it is Donald Trump in real life, raising ethics questions. Additionally, the inclusion of AI-generated images alongside authentic ones gives the deepfakes a cloud of credibility, furthering the disingenuous presentation.
The Community Notes feature on Twitter added context to the post, writing:
The 3 still shots showing Trump embracing Fauci are AI generated images.
Yes, thank you, Twitterverse. But, in a political world where financial disclosures and campaign finance reporting are the law, the voters having transparency about AI deepfakes coming from social media’s voluntary band of context providers is clandestine. And, I would caution, it leads to legal considerations about potential defamation cases.
I previously reported that the 2024 presidential election would be… well, just last week I said that this would happen:
The Rise of AI: How Artificial Intelligence Is Set to Transform the 2024 Presidential Race
Examples of AI-generated images of political figures that may be misleading to some viewers have already emerged as a preview of what may become increasingly more common in the lead-up to the 2024 race. In one instance, a viral fake image created by an AI art generator, Midjorney 5, depicted Former President Donald Trump running from and being arrested by New York police officers. The creator of the fake images was banned from the Midjorney platform, but ultimately not from Twitter since his posts indicated that he was “making pictures.”
The DeSantis campaign seemed to just roll with it, making a joke in a post published on Thursday. A video of the infamous illegal immigrant flights to Martha’s Vineyard is captioned with a warning about the shaky camera footage:
DISCLAIMER: Planes cannot actually dance. That part of the video is NOT REAL. Enjoy [sunglass smiley emoji]
DISCLAIMER: Planes cannot actually dance. That part of the video is NOT REAL.
Enjoy 😎 pic.twitter.com/fDa9kSNj1V
— DeSantis War Room 🐊 (@DeSantisWarRoom) June 8, 2023
As predicted, AI-generated images are being used on the biggest political campaign battlefronts and without what should be proper disclosure to the public. I wouldn’t rule out defamation lawsuits arising, and new legislation requiring notice of this kind of fakery in political advertising. For now, we are left to the internet’s sleuths flagging posts to provide transparency to voters. Welcome to the future.