The AI-engineered image shows Pope Francis wearing a stylish white puffer jacket. Photo/r/midjourney/reddit
ROMA – An image of Pope Francis wearing a stylish white puffer jacket that was shared on social media over the past weekend has fooled thousands of netizens into thinking it was real.
The photo turned out to be produced by artificial intelligence (AI). The fake image, which shows the Pope wearing a bejeweled cross and holding a coffee cup in one hand, was first posted to Reddit on Friday, titled “The Pope Drip,” in a subreddit called r/midjourney. The photo was generated by an artificial intelligence program called Midjourney.
It was then circulated on platforms like Twitter with the post receiving hundreds of thousands of likes and many believing it to be real, including a number of celebrities and well-known social media personalities.
Model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen, for example, tweeted, “I thought Pope’s puffer jacket was real and thought no more of it. I can’t possibly survive the technological future.”
Midjourney was founded by David Holz who also co-founded software company Leap Motion in July 2022 and uses artificial intelligence to generate images using user-provided textual descriptions, similar to DALL-E OpenAI.
This has taken social media by storm as users have been able to create fake images of former United States (US) President Donald Trump, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Eliot Higgins, founder of investigative journalism group Bellingcat, posted a thread on Twitter containing 50 realistic-looking images of Trump’s arrest, produced by Midjourney.
Higgins later told Buzzfeed that he was banned from using the platform because of the images. The word “arrested” is also now banned from Midjourney, per Buzzfeed.
Midjourney did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment about the image, which was made outside of normal business hours.
Signs of AI Pictures
Henry Ajder, AI expert and presenter who sits on the European Advisory Council for Reality Labs Meta, told Insider that while the Pope image looks realistic at first, there are signs it is fake.
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