Question and Answer

What is a “deepfake?” And how can I recognize images that have been created with generative AI?

A deepfake usually refers to a highly realistic but fake image, video, or audio of a person saying or doing something they never actually said or did.

Deepfakes were around long before generative AI tools became popular. Some were made with Photoshop, and some merely changed the caption of an image to make it appear to be from a different context. But now there is more concern about harms of deepfakes since generative AI tools make them so easy to create.

Here are a few tips for recognizing an image that may have been generated with AI:

  • Look for missing or extra fingers, or hands that are deformed in some way.
  • Look at the faces. Small faces are often distorted.
  • Look for misspelled text in the image.
  • Look for inconsistent reflections.

Keep in mind that AI image generators are continually getting better at generating realistic images, so these tips won’t always work.

Here’s another option. Use the Content Credentials website to look for metadata that indicates the origin of the image. Upload an image and it will tell you if it's been generated by Adobe, Microsoft, or OpenAI. However, not all image generation tools include this metadata. So if it shows a Content Credential, you know it was generated, but if it doesn't, you don't know whether it was generated with AI or not.

Another way to investigate is to use a reverse image search tool to find other copies of the image in question. Try uploading the image to Google Images. The results will show websites that contain that exact image and also similar images. This can help you verify that an image is not AI-generated or sometimes that it is AI-generated.

If it's not AI-generated, you will likely find it on more than one website, like news sites reporting on a story with that image. And you’ll find photos of the event from different angles.

If it was AI-generated, you might find other copies of it that are clearly marked as made with AI. There are many social media groups where people share AI-generated works and you might find your image there, confirming that it's AI-generated.

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