Suspected of having been generated by an artificial intelligence… this photo is very authentic: its author says
Published on :
On Twitter, several users think they have detected that a photo showing the arrest of a young woman in demonstration would in fact have been carried out by an artificial intelligence. The snapshot was however taken during the demonstration against the pension reform on March 28 in Paris, as evidenced by several photographs of the scene taken from another angle, and witnesses contacted by the editorial staff of the Observers, including the author of the picture.
Verification in a nutshell
– A photograph posted on Twitter showing a young demonstrator surrounded by three police officers was suspected of being the result of artificial intelligence.
– The Observers editorial staff examined photographs taken from another angle and spoke with four witnesses, including the photographer behind the photo, who shares his concerns about the impact of artificial intelligence on his profession
“The aesthetics of the composition and the light” or even “the policeman’s inappropriate smile”: according to a suspicious user, these details would make it possible to establish that the rather striking snapshot of a young demonstrator surrounded by three police officers was in fact taken by an artificial intelligence. Several people also challenge the author of the tweet who published the photo on March 29 to denounce “State police violence” by asking him to indicate that the image is not authentic.
Since the last update of the image-generating artificial intelligence “Midjourney”, on March 16, 2023, increasingly realistic photos have flourished on social networks among news images. To the point that the slightest shot “too successful” now arouses suspicion. After the day of mobilization against the pension reform in France, Tuesday March 28, a very realistic image but actually designed by artificial intelligence software showed for example an old man with his face in blood surrounded by CRS.
Several elements make it possible to determine whether an image has been created by an artificial intelligence : details on the shape of faces and hands that do not seem natural or even inconsistencies in the texts when there are any. Elements that are not found on the picture of March 28 : there is no flaw in the proportions, no inconsistency in the police uniforms, no visible text…
This is indeed a real photograph, taken on March 28, 2023 during the demonstrations against the pension reform. The editorial staff of Les Observateurs was able to speak with four people who took a photo of the scene, including the author of the photograph called into question. They all say that it was an arrest, approaching the Place de la Nation in Paris, place of arrival of the demonstration on March 28, 2023.
A strong scene widely photographed during the March 28 demonstration in Paris
Photographer Jean-Baptiste Pellerin took a photograph of almost the same scene. We see the same three policemen and the same young woman in the same break as in the photo, suspected of having been designed by an artificial intelligence. We recognize the young woman by her height, haircut, her all-black turtleneck outfit and her beige bag. The photographer confirmed to our editorial staff that it was indeed the same scene, on March 28, as we approached the Place de la Nation.
Spanish journalist Esteve Alonso, also present, took this shot of the young protester, which he posted on Twitter after seeing the controversy. He tells :
When they escorted her to the police lines, she had a very calm face, as if accepting the situation. Many of us took pictures at that time, probably because we all thought she looked very young, maybe even underage.
Yacine El Mghazli, a member of CGT Nokia, took a photo of the girl after she passed behind CRS lines. He recounts :
Many people were indignant at the contrast between the huge policemen and the small, calm young woman. That’s why I relayed it on the networks. (…) There are enough real images not to have to create false ones.
The author of the photo, who prefers to be quoted by his pseudonym of photographer “BadYears85”, transmitted several elements to the editorial staff of the Observers which make it possible to confirm the circumstances – and the reality of the photo, nin particular the file still present in his device.
“These people come to terms with a reality that does not suit them”
“BadYears85” vividly recalls the moment he took the shot:
As Nation approached, there was a moment of hesitation in the procession, which was cut in half. Then I heard screams and I turned to face the stage : the CRS escorted this calm young girl, with a very stoic face. At that time, I was far from the only photographer.
I did not see what happened before and I could not follow the rest of the arrest. As I don’t have Twitter, I didn’t know right away that there was a controversy over my photo.
My photo has not been touched up except for basic brightness and contrast adjustments. Appearance [sous-exposée] photography is also linked to my style of photographer.
It’s a little worrying for the future of our profession to see what artificial intelligence is doing, especially when we see that even some media are starting to use it.
But this is the first time people have questioned a photo I took. I said to myself that these people were making do with a reality that didn’t suit them, that they didn’t want to face. And that is scary.