Historical Photo Page is Duped into Posting a Fake Image Made by AI

AI image of rude boys in London.
A Message to You, Rudy. This AI image purporting to show a group of rude boys in London, in 1969, was shared by a large historical photo page that did not realize it was fake.

A historical photo account fell “hook line and sinker” for an artificial intelligence (AI) image — further underlining the dangers of generative AI.

Vintage London posts photos of the U.K.’s capital city showing its transformation from Roman Londinium to modern-day London.

However, last week the person behind the account was duped into posting an AI image that purported to show a group of “rude boys” in the Brixton area of London in 1969.

Rude boys refer to a smartly-dressed subculture that originated from Jamaica and gained popularity in Britain in the late 1970s, they’re associated with ska bands like The Specials who sang A Message to You, Rudy.

The person behind Vintage London tells PetaPixel that they had very limited experience with AI before the rude boy episode.

“[I’ve] never heard of these programs at all,” when PetaPixel asked how much they knew about AI image generators like DALL-E and Midjourney.

“[I’ve] only ever posted a set of AI images once but I actually knew they were AI. I mentioned the fact that they were AI and a lot of people were quite angry, I did lose some followers because of it.”

Vintage London says that it received the image from someone else who also believed it was a genuine image.

Rude boys in London
A genuine photo of rude boys in Notting Hill, London, 1974 | Bryan Ledgard

The account operator only realized it was a dud from the comment sections and messages they received.

“And then when I researched the photo more I could not find any trace of it on Google whatsoever,” they add.

The experience has been a rude awakening for the person behind the page who says that the experience has taught them that AI images are “good” and can easily fool people who don’t “know how to spot” them.

The image was also posted to a rude boys appreciation Twitter page with the caption “Rude Boys, Brixton, 1969” where it received nearly half a million views and over 6,000 likes — but only a few comments pointing out that it is in fact an AI image.

While it is easy to see why people thought it was a genuine photo because there are no obvious AI artifacts, there is something about the tone and lighting that gives it away. Images from Midjourney in particular have an aesthetically-pleasing glow to them.

You can check out Vintage London’s Instagram page which endeavors to post authentic historical photos here.