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Artificial Indoctrination

March 11, 2024

by: Nathan Williams, Director of Marketing and Communications

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In the realm of technological advancement, Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands as both a beacon of hope and a harbinger of peril. While AI promises to revolutionize industries and streamline processes, its unchecked proliferation poses unprecedented risks. Specifically the field of Generative AI (GenAI) and its ability to obfuscate reality, manipulate narratives and social media algorithms is especially concerning. Whether it is the distortion of historical events or the creation and dissemination of fabricated news stories and images, AI generators are adept at amplifying falsehoods. As a result, the search for truth becomes a casualty.

Fact or Fiction?

A particularly insidious manifestation of GenAI is the proliferation of artificially generated images. Deepfake technology, which leverages AI to create hyper-realistic videos and images, has become increasingly prevalent, blurring the line between fact and fiction. In a conflict as emotionally charged as the Israeli–Palestinian struggle, where imagery plays a pivotal role in shaping perceptions, the rise of AI deepfakes poses a grave threat to the integrity of information. AI-powered tools within graphic design software enable even untrained users to effortlessly manipulate images, adding or removing elements which were not in the original image, or worse, creating hyper-realistic computer generated images with unprecedented ease.

As a result, manipulated visuals depicting purported atrocities or acts of heroism saturate the social media landscape. In the context of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, where information warfare is rampant, AI-generated content published on thousands of fake social media accounts has become a potent tool for spreading misinformation and shaping public opinion.

The October 7 massacre was not only launched in the physical realm but also in cyberspace. As armed Hamas terrorists entered Israeli territory to kidnap, murder and maim, a simultaneous attack took place on the online battlefront. According to Cyabra, an Israeli social threat intelligence company that exposes bad actors, disinformation and bots online, thousands of fake profiles were activated in the two days following October 7. In a coordinated way, these pro-Palestinian fake profiles launched an online narrative warfare campaign spreading disinformation and propaganda, as well as gathering sensitive details about their targets. Cyabra analyzed 2 million posts, pictures and videos across Facebook, X (Twitter), Instagram and TikTok. One out of four or 25% of those social media accounts taking part in the conversation about the war were identified as fake, posting over 312,000 pro-Hamas posts. The bad actors who run these fake profiles also know how to manipulate the social media algorithms. Posts containing pro-Hamas propaganda actually used pro-Israel hashtags, such as #IStandWithIsrael or #Israel in order to gain higher exposure and reach new audiences.

Spotting the Phonies

As we navigate this treacherous terrain of digital deception, it is imperative to equip ourselves with the tools necessary to identify AI-generated images. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Inconsistencies in lighting and shadow: AI-generated images may exhibit inconsistencies in lighting and shadow that betray their artificial origins.
  • Unnatural facial expressions and appendages: Deepfake videos and GenAI images often feature unnatural facial expressions, additional appendages such as fingers, hands and movements that diverge from typical human behavior.
  • Mismatched audio and visuals: In some cases, deepfake videos may feature audio that is out of sync with the corresponding visuals. Be wary of discrepancies between lip movements and spoken words, as these can signal the presence of AI manipulation.
  • Anomalies in background details: AI-generated images may contain anomalies in background details, such as inconsistencies in perspective or scale.
  • Reverse image search: Utilize reverse image search tools to verify the authenticity of visual content. By comparing a suspect image to known sources, you can uncover instances of digital manipulation and misinformation.
  • Consult trusted sources: When in doubt, consult trusted sources and independent experts to corroborate the authenticity of visual content.
  • Use AI to detect AI: Cyabra has launched an online AI checker. The tool is available at www.botbusters.ai where users can check if text, images or even social media profiles are fake or AI-generated.

Now What?

In the age of AI, the quest for truth has never been more challenging. As we grapple with the proliferation of AI-generated content and the erosion of trust in online narratives, vigilance and critical thinking are our greatest allies. AI undoubtedly holds promise for the future, but its unchecked proliferation in the realm of online narrative warfare poses grave risks, particularly in the context of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Pro-Palestinians supporters are not passive observers of the advancements in AI and its applications in online narrative warfare, but seek to use this technology to further delegitimize Israeli actions, incite international condemnation and rally support for their cause. Recognizing the potential of AI-generated content to sway public opinion and shape perceptions, some Palestinian actors have leveraged these technologies to further their own agendas.

As AI algorithms become increasingly adept at generating convincing fake images and videos, the line between reality and fiction becomes ever more blurred, making it difficult to discern truth from propaganda. The proliferation of AI-generated content has been particularly pronounced since the October 7 massacre in the dissemination of fabricated images depicting casualties in Gaza purportedly as a result of Israeli aggression. Palestinians have strategically utilized AI to create and circulate these harrowing images, aiming to elicit global sympathy and condemnation of Israeli actions. These falsified portrayals, often meticulously crafted with AI-driven tools, serve to amplify the narrative of Palestinian victimhood and fuel international outrage against perceived Israeli injustices. This deliberate manipulation of imagery underscores the urgent need for heightened vigilance and critical discernment in navigating the complex landscape of online narrative warfare.

Did You See It?

Dear reader. You may have been under the impression that I wrote this article because my picture and name appear in the byline. It is my obligation to report that some paragraphs are indeed my work, yet others were completely written by AI technology. Can you discern which is which? I have done this intentionally, not to deceive or to trick you, but to highlight the ability and dangers of this technology. In the world we live in today, we need to think twice about everything we read and see. As Christians, we have been warned repeatedly about the risk of deception. As GenAI technology continues to become interwoven into everyday life, we must pray for heightened discernment regarding what we choose to believe, what we choose to share on social media and what we take as fact in the perilous future of this emergent technology.

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