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DeSantis attack ad uses fake AI images of Trump embracing Fauci

James Vincent

The Verge

Jun 9, 2023

The campaign backing Ron DeSantis as Republican presidential nominee in 2024 has used what experts identify as AI-generated deepfakes in attack ad against rival Donald Trump.

On June 5th, the “DeSantis War Room” Twitter account shared a video emphasizing Trump’s support for Anthony Fauci, a former White House chief medical advisor and key figure in developing the US response to COVID-19. Fauci has become a hated figure in right-wing politics, particularly among the anti-vax movement, and the attack ad seeks to grow this base of support for DeSantis by portraying Trump and Fauci as close collaborators.

The video includes real clips of Trump discussing Fauci and a collage of six pictures of the two men together. Of the six images, three appear to be AI-generated, showing Trump embracing Fauci. In the collage below they are top-left, bottom-middle, and bottom-right.

The fakes were first identified by AFP, who note that the real images in the collage above can be seen here, here, and here. The three fake images show no results in reverse image searches and have a number of tells that suggest they are AI-generated.

These tells include glossy and blurred textures (particularly in the hair and flesh of the two men), physically unrealistic poses (particularly in the top-left image), and an inaccurate reproduction of the White House press briefing room and its decorations.