Scandal Mounts as TV Network Used AI to Sexualize Image of Politician

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“Note the enlarged boobs and outfit to be made more revealing.”

Blame Photoshop

A national news service in Australia has been criticized for using AI to sexualize an image of Victoria state parliament member Georgie Purcell.

The photo, published by Nine News earlier this month, was torn apart by Purcell on social media, who called the channel out for the “constant sexualization and objectification” that female politicians in Australia are subjected to.

The doctored image appears to emphasize the politician’s breasts and mysteriously exposes her midriff, despite the original image showing her wearing a one-piece dress.

The incident is the latest example of AI being used to distort the truth.

“I endured a lot yesterday,” Purcell tweeted earlier this week. “But having my body and outfit photoshopped by a media outlet was not on my bingo card. Note the enlarged boobs and outfit to be made more revealing.”

“Can’t imagine this happening to a male MP,” she added. “What gives?”

Creative Liberties

Nine News has since blamed “automation by Photoshop” for the incident.

“As is common practice, the image was resized to fit our specs,” said Nine News Melbourne director of news Hugh Nailon in a statement, as quoted by the BBC. “During that process, the automation by Photoshop created an image that was not consistent with the original.”

It’s unclear whether Nailon was referring to the Photoshop feature called “content-aware scale,” which can be used to expand a picture to fit frames of other dimensions, or whether he meant a recently released AI tool that fills in a user-selected area based on a text prompt.

Considering the significant changes to Purcell’s dress, it’s likely the latter.

“This did not meet the high editorial standards we have,” Nailon added.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Photoshop maker Adobe told the BBC that “human intervention and approval” would’ve been required for “any changes to this image.”

Despite accepting Nailon’s public apology, Purcell is now ringing the alarm bells over AI being used to sexualize women.

“This is not just some random person on the internet,” she said in a statement. “This is an organization with a lot of staff and a lot of resources that frankly should know better.”

Considering previous instances of sexist abuse aimed at female politicians in the country, she certainly has a point.

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