AI nude photo scandal prompts calls for more oversight of tech

(NewsNation) — Outrage continues to build in a New Jersey community over a nude photo controversy at Westfield High School, where a group of boys allegedly used artificial intelligence (AI) to create inappropriate images of their female classmates.

The scandal has prompted calls from around the U.S. for more oversight of the new technology.

Police are investigating the pornographic images, and the school district can’t say if any disciplinary actions were taken due to privacy laws.

However, Dorota Mani doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else after her 14-year-old daughter was one of those students who was allegedly targeted at the New Jersey high school.

“She feels uncomfortable walking the hallways and sitting in the lunchroom with whoever was involved in this incident,” Mani said.

Mani’s daughter informed her of the situation and the investigation at the high school over the fake photos. The Westfield High School administration told Mani that there was nothing they could do. She said the school’s response was disappointing and unacceptable.

The Westfield public schools superintendent released a statement last week, saying all districts were facing challenges with AI. The principal of the high school said they will continue to educate about responsible technology use.

A report by Sensitivity AI found that up to 95% of deep fake videos between 2018 and 2020 were primarily based on non-consensual pornography.

Investigators said finding the creators of these fake images takes a lot more time and expertise than anticipated. Experts also said the trauma for the victims could last a lifetime.

“It only takes them applying to one college, one job, one dating app for someone to Google them and potentially see that and that will impact them the rest of their lives,” NewsNation national security contributor Tracy Walder said. “We have to start thinking about different sentences for juveniles who engage in this kind of behavior because, in my opinion, it can be just as damaging as violent crime.”

Walder continued, “Not to mention, the amount of students who may take their lives as a result of having to deal with this.”

This is another reason why more and more advocates are calling for social media and search engine companies to intervene as soon as possible, flagging or blocking potential images.

However, some experts say there isn’t too much that people can do to protect themselves online except be aware.

Ben Colman, the CEO of Reality Defender, said seeing is no longer believing.

“Right now, if you see it, you can’t believe it. By default, you should assume it might be fake, especially if it is someone you don’t know or someone you do know communicating in a new way. The challenge is only getting bigger and for consumers, it’s nearly impossible to tell a great fake from a real image,” Colman said.

President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order to better protect Americans from the potential dangers of AI.

Mani said everyone needs to step up to get tougher laws on the books.

“We should send a clear message to Westfield girls that they are worth it and we will fight for them and this is not OK,” Mani said.

Mani said her daughter is taking this into her own hands and wants to turn this around and help. Now, the 14-year-old is creating a website to help connect other victims of AI to helpful resources.

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