Six examples of AI-assisted propaganda in everyday politics


As the output of AI models has become more realistic, AI-generated media is creeping into everyday politics, as these examples show.

A new era of AI-driven “fake news” has begun, not always as harmless as images of the Pope suddenly dressed in surprisingly fashionable clothes. They can also cause serious confusion, as in the case of the images purporting to show the alleged arrest of Donald Trump, or the fake image of a fire near the Pentagon.

In this article, we collect examples of AI being used for political manipulation. This article will be updated regularly.

Toronto mayoral candidate Anthony Furey

Toronto is about to elect a new mayor. Anthony Furey, who says he has worked in journalism and broadcasting for 15 years himself, has recognized the potential of AI image generators and is using them to illustrate parts of his campaign. One of his core themes is: He wants to rid Toronto’s streets of homeless people.


Picture: Anthony Furey

For example, one image from his campaign shows a Toronto street with people camping out without shelter. Another image shows a man and a woman, but is quickly revealed to be AI-generated: the woman has three arms.

Picture: Anthony Furey

The source of the various images in the brochure is unclear. The image of the three arms has been replaced by a less conspicuous image, also generated by AI.

New Zealand National Party

The image used by the conservative right-wing New Zealand National Party on Instagram gives a more realistic feel. “New Zealand is not safe under Labour,” reads the caption on a picture of a faceless burglar. There is no reference to the origin of the image. Voters’ reactions in the comments are mixed, with some condemning the “Trump-like” policy and others welcoming the use of modern technology.

Picture: nznationalparty Instagram

Chicago mayoral candidate

The use of AI for political manipulation is not limited to image generation. According to the New York Times, a candidate for mayor in Chicago complained that a seemingly legitimate media outlet cloned his voice on Twitter. In this way, he says, he was tricked into saying that he supported police violence. Whether it was a hoax cannot be verified.


In May 2023, images of a burning building, supposedly close to the Pentagon, circulated on Twitter from accounts that at first seemed trustworthy because they were marked with a blue checkmark.


norbert.kleinwaechter on Instagram

Arrest of Donald Trump

AI can create images in seconds that look like real photos at first glance. This allows malicious users to seize on breaking news and quickly spread visualizations.

For example, when the public was discussing the possible arrest of former US President Donald Trump, partially photorealistic images appeared on social media shortly thereafter, purportedly confirming it.

This was triggered by Eliot Higginsfounder of the Dutch research organization Bellingcat, who visualized his arrest fantasy with Midjourney and shared the results on Twitter.

Ein mit Midjourney generiertes Bild zeigt die Verhaftung von Donald Trump.
AI image generators can produce photorealistic images that are difficult to distinguish from real images. An example of this is the fictional arrest of Donald Trump, which raises questions about the regulation of AI images. | Image: Midjourney prompted by Eliot Higgins

Is it allowed to use AI image models for political campaigns?

Midjourney, the AI ​​image model that is currently considered the most powerful of its kind and that has come closer to photorealism in recent versions, explicitly forbids the use of its images for political purposes in its terms of use.

However, the operators of Midjourney – if they become aware of such cases – can do little about it, except to moderate the prompts and block the corresponding accounts. Such consequences are excluded in the open-source model of Stable Diffusion, which is slowly reaching a similar level of quality with SDXL.

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