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Taylor Swift incident draws attention to AI-generated pornography

Since the rise of Artificial Intelligence and ChatGPT’s release in 2022, victims have been targeted by pornographic AI-generated images that have, in some cases, circulated on social media websites like X, formerly Twitter.

Deepfakes are videos or images in which a person’s “face or body has been digitally altered so that they appear to be someone else, typically used maliciously or to spread false information,” according to Oxford Languages. Recently, these have risen in the form of pornographic images.

In late January, pornographic AI-generated images of Taylor Swift started to circulate the internet and gained thousands of views on X, according to the Associated Press

Mary Rice, associate professor of literacy at the University of New Mexico, specializes in AI’s role in education. The Swift incident was not a random act that sprung up on its own, Rice said.

“It was a deliberate human action that generated that material out of particular misogyny, the hatred of women, hatred of her and spite,” Rice said.

Taylor Swift wasn’t the only victim in this incident. Each AI-generated image can negatively impact more than just whose face is used, Rice said. Pornography is a hyperreality, she said. It is stylized and not centered in reality.

“It was a thing that was generated in a machine-like way using thousands and thousands of images of porn. So it’s not just Taylor who was being victimized in that moment. It was a lot of other people,” Rice said. “But her face was the famous one behind it.”

John Benavidez, a principal lecturer at the UNM Anderson School of Management, has used AI in his social media class and acknowledges some benefits to using it.

Benavidez has used AI for marketing, and he recently taught his students how to add UNM’s mascot onto images using Photoshop’s Generative Fill feature. An issue he is generally aware of, he said, is ensuring that he is not using copyrighted images through AI.

“When you’re including copyrighted images – or even in cases where they’re creating pornographic material with someone’s name, image and likeness – that’s another issue,” Benavidez said.

Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Press Secretary, addressed misinformation and nonconsensual, intimate imagery in a January press briefing.

President Joe Biden launched a task force to address online harassment and abuse last year, and the Department of Justice launched a national helpline for survivors of image-based sexual abuse, Jean-Pierre said.

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“While social media companies make their own independent decisions about content management, we believe they have an important role to play in enforcing their own rules,” Jean-Pierre said. “Sadly, though, too often we know that lax enforcement disproportionately impacts … girls, who are the overwhelming targets of online harassment.”

Lauren Lifke is the managing editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @lauren_lifke

Lauren Lifke

 Lauren Lifke is the managing editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at or on Twitter @lauren_lifke 

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