Amnesty nixes AI-generated images of Colombian protests after criticism
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Human rights advocacy group Amnesty International has retracted artificial intelligence (AI) generated images it used in a campaign to publicize police brutality in Colombia during national protests in 2021.
The group was criticized for using AI to produce the images for its social media accounts according to reports. One image, in particular, was highlighted by The Guardian on May 2.
It depicts a woman being dragged away by police during Colombia’s protests against deep and long-standing economic and social inequalities in 2021.
However, a closer look shows a few discrepancies in the image such as the uncanny-looking faces, dated police uniforms and a protestor that appears to be somehow wrapped in a flag that is not the correct flag of Colombia.
The bottom of each image also carries a disclaimer saying the images are produced by an AI.
Amnesty International told The Guardian it chose to use AI to generate images to protect protesters from possible state retribution. Erika Guevara Rosas, director for Americas at Amnesty, said:
“We have removed the images from social media posts, as we don’t want the criticism for the use of AI-generated images to distract from the core message in support of the victims and their calls for justice in Colombia,”
Photojournalists criticized the use of the images, commenting that in today’s highly polarized era of fake news people are more likely to question the media’s credibility.
Media scholar Roland Meyer commented on the deleted images stating “image synthesis reproduces and reinforces visual stereotypes almost by default,” before adding they were “ultimately nothing more than propaganda.”
I can’t imagine an org that should NEVER use AI imagery more than @amnesty. These are real issues impacting the safety of real people in the real world. Photojournalists are out there documenting the reality. Using pretend imagery only hurts those who are suffering. pic.twitter.com/hN0SPvOFYi
— Shah Selbe (@shahselbe) April 30, 2023
Other images, now deleted by Amnesty, were shared by Twitter users in late April.
AI is being increasingly used to generate images and visual media. In late April, HustleGPT founder Dave Craige posted a video of the United States Republican Party using AI imagery in its political campaign.
Woa, this is crazy. The US Republican Party is already using Ai images in their ads. They show bleak images of what “could be” in the future.
Dang that was fast.https://t.co/q8ievnegxJ pic.twitter.com/ugMTLLcwkT
— Dave Craige (@davecraige) April 28, 2023
“We all knew that AI and deep-fake images were going to make it to politics, I just didn’t realize it would happen so quickly,” he exclaimed.