Explicit AI Images of Taylor Swift Traced Back to ‘Challenge’ on 4Chan

Taylor Swift

The root cause of the recent sexually explicit AI images of Taylor Swift that went viral has been traced back to the anonymous messaging board website 4chan.

According to a new study, the images came about as a chatroom challenge to bypass filters on AI image generators that are there to stop people from creating pornographic pictures.

4chan already has a controversial reputation and according to Graphika who made the report, the Swift AI images were made as part of a “game” that saw users attempt to make lewd and often violent images of famous women.

“While viral pornographic pictures of Taylor Swift have brought mainstream attention to the issue of AI-generated non-consensual intimate images, she is far from the only victim,” Cristina Lopez G., a senior analyst at Graphika said in a statement accompanying the report.

“In the 4chan community where these images originated, she isn’t even the most frequently targeted public figure. This shows that anyone can be targeted in this way, from global celebrities to school children.”

The report says that the messages on 4chan encouraged people to evade safeguards set up by text-to-image models; including OpenAI’s DALL-E, Microsoft Designer, and Bing Image Creator. Users shared “tips and tricks to find new ways to bypass filters.”

OpenAI made a statement in response to the controversy: saying that its AI image generator DALL-E had nothing to do with the fiasco.

“We work to filter out the most explicit content when training the underlying DALL-E model, and apply additional safety guardrails for our products like ChatGPT — including denying requests that ask for a public figure by name or denying requests for explicit content,” OpenAI said.

Microsft says that it is “continuing to investigate these images” and it has “strengthened our existing safety systems to further prevent our services from being misused to help generate images like them.”

The explicit images of Swift, which were posted on Telegram and X (formerly Twitter), were removed but not before one post received more than 47 million views. It prompted X to block searches for the songstress for a few days.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.