Ojitos de Fe / Facebook

As Christians continue to grapple with their association with artificial intelligence (AI), Facebook has been inundated with AI-generated images of Jesus Christ, stirring criticism and amusement. One image, labeled “Hot AI Jesus,” shows an extremely ripped Jesus in the boxing ring, punching Satan in the face. Another image, referred to as “Shrimp Jesus,” shows the Savior constructed out of mini shrimp. There are other images of Jesus built out of plastic bottles or sand. The engagement on the images is also huge, with “Hot AI Jesus” accumulating over 600,000 likes.

The sources of these images remain dubious, with accounts not noting the images to be AI-generated, although Meta’s policies require this acknowledgment. The Stanford Internet Observatory analyzed some 120 pages that generate such images and found that some are run by the same administrators and run up millions of engagements. A number of those engagements, however, appear to be bot-generated responses. Some of the images even appear to be stolen from other pages. Researchers believe the accounts are generated to seek out users who are vulnerable to scams. “AI-generated content appears to be a boon for spam and scam actors because the images are easy to generate, often visually sensational, and attract engagement,” wrote the researchers. Commentators might receive requests for personal data. “Hello, Honestly, I’m really impressed with your profile and personality. I also admire your good sense of humor here. I don’t normally write in the comment section, but I think you deserve this compliment. I would like to be your friend. Kindly send me a friend request, please. If you don’t mind. Thank you,” said one apparent bot account.

Because of how Meta’s algorithm works, the constant activity, even if by bots, further promotes the accounts. “These images in total account for hundreds of millions of interactions and are shown through Facebook’s Feed to some Facebook users who do not follow the Pages. While Shrimp Jesus is (perhaps) obviously an artistic fantasy—created by a page that previously shared clickbait links to a content farm—comments on many of the AI-generated images of more mundane things, like housewares, homes, or artwork purportedly created by children, suggest many users are unaware of the synthetic origin,” wrote the Stanford analysis. Meta has not commented on removing the pages or requiring the AI-generated images to be labeled. Brian Fishman, a former policy director at Meta, said he does not believe the images violate Meta’s policies. “I just don’t know how [Hot Jesus] would violate the company’s policies… these kind of allegorical images aren’t exactly misinformation, even if folks find them distasteful.”

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