TikTokers have started a disturbing new trend of using generative artificial intelligence to depict grisly murders and other heinous true crimes committed against children.
The resulting video clips — modified deepfakes, as they do not alter existing images but instead create new ones — show young children, sometimes bruised, narrating their chilling real-life experiences with computer-generated voices.
Notable murders spoken of, in first person, by CGI kids include that of Elisa Izquierdo, a 6-year-old murdered by her mother.
Another video tells the story of Carl Newton Mahan, the 6-year-old Kentucky boy who fatally shot an 8-year-old in 1929.
Some videos have been viewed almost 3 million times.
Many of the clips claim that AI is used in lieu of real photos as a way of “respecting the family” of the deceased. Names are slightly modified as well in some instances.
Rolling Stone reported that recreated images of famous deaths — such as those of President John F. Kennedy and George Floyd — have also made rounds on the social media platform. As of now, those videos have been taken down.
One account which enjoys almost 50,000 followers and is known for posting these videos, @truestorynow, has been banned from TikTok for violating community guidelines, according to Rolling Stone.
“They’re quite strange and creepy,” Paul Bleakley, an assistant professor in criminal justice at the University of New Haven, told the publication.
“They seem designed to trigger strong emotional reactions, because it’s the surest-fire way to get clicks and likes. It’s uncomfortable to watch, but I think that might be the point.”
Not only is the practice upsetting to many viewers, but Bleakly warns that “this has real potential to revictimize people who have been victimized before.”
“Imagine being the parent or relative of one of these kids in these AI videos,” he said, adding that the legal options for fighting back against the clips represents a “very sticky, murky gray area.”
“You go online, and in this strange, high-pitched voice, here’s an AI image [based on] your deceased child, going into very gory detail about what happened to them.”