MAGA Uses AI to Invent Pictures of Trump With Black People


MAGA influencers are turning to generative AI to fabricate photos of presidential candidate Donald Trump alongside smiling Black voters, according to a report from the BBC — yet another sign that the threat of AI-driven misinformation to America’s ongoing election cycle is no longer an imminent danger, but one that’s already taking root.

Two images were at the center of the BBC’s investigation: the first being a picture of Trump surrounded by and hugging a group of smiling Black women, which was shared to Facebook in November 2023 by conservative radio jockey Mark Kaye, and the second an image of the former president sitting on a stoop with a group of young Black men, which appears to have been first shared to X-formerly-Twitter in October 2023 by an account called “Trump History.” The latter photo has been kicking around X in the months since it was first posted, though picked up renewed steam this year when a a blue-checkmark MAGA influencer dubbed “Shaggy” posted the image with the false claim that it was snapped after Trump halted his motorcade to “take pictures with young men that waved him down.”

Though each photo contains telltale signs of AI generation — mushy, strange fingers, missing appendages, and more of the like — an alarming number of social media users were seemingly duped by the AI-spun imagery.

“A beautiful photo,” reads one of many positive comments on Kaye’s November Facebook post — which, we’d be remiss not to note, appears to be an effort to sell a Kaye-authored Christmas book inspired by Rush Limbaugh. “God Bless you all & keep President Trump safe always!”

“Happy Black History Month!” an X user with #AmericaFirst and #Trump2024 in his bio captioned a February 24 post containing the fake “motorcade” image.

Black Americans have historically leaned Democrat, and to that end, support from Black voters was crucial to President Joe Biden’s 2020 victory over Trump. A recent Gallup survey, however, showed that Biden’s support may be waning among Black and Latino adults in 2024; meanwhile, according to the Associated Press, the Trump campaign — despite Trump’s known and well-documented history of racism — is specifically looking to target Black voters in 2024.

In other words, given Trump’s push to win over Black voters, it’s not surprising to see MAGA pundits continue to use AI as a means to chip away at the former president’s racist image — without the candidate doing the work of actually going out and meeting Black voters, that is.

As Cliff Albright, the cofounder of the political organizing group Black Voters Matter, told the BBC, this wouldn’t be the first time that disinformation was disseminated with the hopes of swaying Black voters.

“There have been documented attempts to target disinformation to Black communities again,” said Albright, “especially younger Black voters.”

On that note, neither Shaggy nor Kaye seemed thrilled to answer the BBC’s questions about the AI-generated photos they shared.

“[My posts] have attracted thousands of wonderful kind-hearted Christian followers,” Shaggy told the BBC, before blocking the journalist.

“I’m not claiming it’s accurate,” Kaye, whose show is hosted by Newsmax, or the roided-out version of Fox News which claims to offer “real news for real people.” He also added that he’s not “not a photojournalist,” a fact he seemingly believes absolves him of any factual responsibility when sharing images.

“I’m not out there taking pictures of what’s really happening. I’m a storyteller,” Kaye’s absurdity continued. “I’m not saying, ‘Hey, look, Donald Trump was at this party with all of these African American voters. Look how much they love him!” he added, though it’s difficult to imagine what else he may have been implying.

Misinformation is a reality of the modern political environment, but no publicly-available technology has been as capable of mass-producing misinformation as cheaply and readily as generative AI. Kaye certainly isn’t a journalist, but like he said himself, he is a storyteller. And in this case, judging from the comments section on his post, his AI-abetted narrative-building was effective, as was Shaggy’s motorcade claim — a reality that should make all of us take AI’s role in the 2024 election gravely seriously.

More on AI and elections: AI Used to Resurrect Dead Dictator to Sway Election


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