Monday, 24 Jun 2024

‘Dangerous’ AI deep fakes spreading Israel-Hamas news is ‘unprecedented’

Artificial intelligence (AI) is being used to generate deep-fake photographs and footage of the Israel-Hamas war for public-fooling propaganda.

Fact-checkers have expressed their intense concern at "unprecedented" misinformation. They have also accused social media companies of failing to stop false footage and images from being shared online.

They say this is prompting unrest among both Isreali and Palestinian supporters. "In my 25 years of tracking extremism and conflicts, I have never seen disinformation reach such viral levels as it has during this war," said Rita Katz, director of Site Intelligence Group.

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She continued: "Disinformation surrounding the Israel-Hamas war is uniquely dangerous because there are few, if any, issues that divide societies as much as this one. Across the world, people are demonstrating, spewing hate, and literally killing each other over war in a relatively small portion of the Middle East. No other conflict, be it the Syrian civil war, Ukraine war or others, could do this."

There are fears AI tools are generating fake footage and photos of victims and being spread far and wide on social media platforms. Also that old footage from unrelated conflicts, including the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, is being presented to people as new and relevant.

The Times reports how during the first week of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, about 63 million mentions of Russia or Ukraine were tracked across blogs, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and YouTube.

In comparison during the week that followed,Hamas's terror attack on October 7, 78 million posts were made across the same platforms according to analysis by Logically, a company that monitors misinformation. Kyle Walter, its head of research, called what was happening "unprecedented".

The Palestinian side has produced scores of AI images of people standing among rubble in Gaza during Israeli bombardments, despite there being a large number of real images showing the same scenes.

Gerry Adams, the former president of Sinn Féin, even took to X, formerly Twitter, to express his upset at a photo of a Gazan man carrying several children near a collapsed building. The image however showed warped hands and feet hinting at AI interference or editing.

The post was later deleted. Among the fabrications are false claims that a top Israeli commander had been kidnapped as an edited video imitating a BBC News report began circulating the internet.

A video shared on X and beyond appears to show injured victims of the ongoing war within a hospital. But the hospital video actually predates the latest Israel-Hamas war altogether.

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