MAGA Supporters Are Sharing Deepfakes of Trump With Black People to Target Black Voters

A new BBC investigation found that AI-generated photos of former President Donald Trump posing with Black people are circulating online and, in some cases, actually fooling people.

Politics
MAGA Supporters Are Sharing Deepfakes of Trump With Black People to Target Black Voters

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that former President Donald Trump will—once again—be on the ballot in Colorado. It was a decision that—had it gone the other way—could’ve challenged his eligibility for another term. In the midst of this, Trump is continuing to use Sinead O’Connor’s music during his campaign events despite her estate’s denunciations. And now, an investigation has revealed a new and profoundly unsettling way his supporters are trying to drum up more votes.

Over the weekend, BBC Panorama reported that supporters in Florida have been creating dozens of AI deepfakes of a gleeful Trump surrounded by Black people and sharing them on social media. One photo described in the investigation was created by Mark Kaye, a conservative radio show host in the state, who attached the photo to a post with an article about Black voters turning out for Trump and shared it on his Facebook, where he has over a million followers. Kaye admitted to making the photo but said it’s not his fault if people believe the photo’s real.

“I’m not a photojournalist. I’m not out there taking pictures of what’s really happening. I’m a storyteller,” Kaye told BBC. “I’m not claiming it is accurate. I’m not saying, ‘Hey, look, Donald Trump was at this party with all of these African American voters. Look how much they love him.’”

“If anybody’s voting one way or another because of one photo they see on a Facebook page, that’s a problem with that person, not with the post itself,” he continued.

Another photo depicts a group of Black men posing with Trump on what appears to be a front porch. This one was an ad originally posted by a satirical Facebook account that generates images of the former president. It garnered widespread attention, however, when it was reposted with a caption that erroneously claimed that Trump had stopped his motorcade to speak with the men in the photo.

Disturbingly, some folks—like a taxi driver in Atlanta named Douglas—told the BBC they initially fell for the photos and thought it showed that Trump had an increasing base of Black voters. If you look any longer than two seconds, the photos are quite clearly fake. That said, it’s still easy to see how someone quickly scrolling through their timeline or giving them a passing glance could be duped by them.

“Well, that’s the thing about social media. It’s so easy to fool people,” Douglas said after being told that they were fake. According to Cliff Albright, the co-founder of Black Voters Matter, the deepfakes are just a new iteration of the same old disinformation tactics used in the past two elections directed toward the Black community.

“There have been documented attempts to target disinformation to black communities again, especially younger black voters,” Albright explained to BBC.

Meanwhile, at an event for Black conservatives in South Carolina last week, Trump insinuated that his recent indictments might actually help him appeal to Black voters.

“A lot of people said that’s why the Black people like me, because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against, and they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against,” he said. “It’s been pretty amazing but possibly, maybe, there’s something there.”

Welp, can’t wait to see how these next eight months are going to go!

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