Fact Check: AI-generated image claiming to show an explosion near Pentagon is fake
The widespread rumours on social media indicating that the Pentagon had been the target of an explosion on May 22, 2023, are fake. Vishvas News investigation reveals that the purported image was AI-generated as no credible reports or official Pentagon accounts supported these claims. The incident underscores the growing concern over hyperrealistic, AI-generated content’s potential for misinformation, especially given that even verified Twitter users shared the misleading information.
- By Vishvas News
- Updated: May 24, 2023
New Delhi (Vishvas News): The US and other parts of the world witnessed some panicky news reports and social media posts this week when claims of the Pentagon, the US defence forces’ headquarters, being “hit by an explosion” went viral. However, Vishvas News found the claim to be fake and the purported image to have been generated using Artificial Intelligence or AI.
Among others, a Facebook page by the name Kashmir Abtak News shared a viral post (archive link) on May 22, 2023, which said, “Explosion occurred near the Pentagon in the United States. As per Initial media Reports of a Large Explosion near The Pentagon Complex in Washington D.C. More details emerging.”
The post was also shared on Twitter by other users.
On the morning of May 22 (Monday), claims and reports of “a huge explosion” at the Pentagon in the US went viral on social media. The Pentagon is the headquarters of the US Department of Defense, in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, DC.
Vishvas News first did an open search on Google and checked initial news reports but found no credible information to this effect online.
Next, we checked the official accounts of Pentagon officials and found this tweet by Arlington Fire & EMS, which stated: “@PFPAOfficial and the ACFD are aware of a social media report circulating online about an explosion near the Pentagon. There is NO explosion or incident taking place at or near the Pentagon reservation, and there is no immediate danger or hazards to the public.”
Later, many news websites also confirmed that these were fake, AI-generated images.
While the origin of the image remains unclear, speculation that it was generated by AI deepened concerns about the spread of misinformation.
To be more sure, Vishvas News also explored the AI art detector Hugging Face tool for clarity on the purported image. The tool said the image is “100% AI-generated”.
On analysing the image, we found many hallmarks of it being generated using a text-to-image AI tool. There are many visual inconsistencies in the image, including a streetlamp that appears to be both in front and behind the metal barrier. Not to mention that the metal barriers also look hazy and the building itself doesn’t look like the Pentagon.
AI-driven tools that translate text into images enable individuals to input a description in everyday language, known as a prompt, and receive a corresponding image, which results in a proliferation of hyper-realistic content that often misleads internet users.
The original misleading tweet was finally removed, but not before it was propagated by several Twitter accounts adorned with the blue checkmark, a symbol previously exclusive to professionally verified accounts but now available upon payment.
A tweet by a Bloomberg journalist confirmed that the tweet wasn’t reported by the organisation.
To confirm, Vishvas News also spoke to Carl Sullivan, US-based journalist and North America Managing Editor at Flipboard (social, magazine and news app), who said the viral claim is fake.
The Facebook page Kasmir Abtak News, which shared the viral claim, identifies itself as a media news company and has around 78,000 followers on Facebook.
Conclusion: The widespread rumours on social media indicating that the Pentagon had been the target of an explosion on May 22, 2023, are fake. Vishvas News investigation reveals that the purported image was AI-generated as no credible reports or official Pentagon accounts supported these claims. The incident underscores the growing concern over hyperrealistic, AI-generated content’s potential for misinformation, especially given that even verified Twitter users shared the misleading information.
- Claim Review : Huge explosion near Pentagon
- Claimed By : Fb Page: Kashmir Abtak News
- Fact Check : False
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