Viral ‘Eye for an Eye’ Story on TikTok is AI-Generated and Completely Made Up

A middle-aged man with glasses and a grayish beard wearing a plaid shirt is shown against a plain background. In the bottom-left corner, there is a small overlay image of a man in a police uniform and a smiling young woman.
Both the images are AI-generated to go along with an AI-generated story.

A viral news story on TikTok about “Douglass Barnes” who carried out an “eye for an eye” murder on a cop’s daughter is made up, police say.

The horrifying story of the fictional Barnes murdering the cop’s daughter after the cop had murdered his son four years earlier during a traffic stop even has two AI-generated pictures attached to it.

The post was made by an account called Dax News which has since been deleted but the post remains on multiple pages on TikTok with users falling hook, line, and sinker for the ruse; leaving impassioned comments beneath the posts.

Along with the photos, the story is AI-generated too but says it happened in Livonia, Michigan — a real suburb of Detroit. But the Livonia Police Department tells Forbes that the story is a fabrication.

The story revolves around Livonia High School but no such school exists and the mugshot of Barnes has only existed online for a few days according to a Google Reverse Image search; a big clue that it was AI-generated. Local Detroit media are also reporting that the story is fake.

But because of the thousands of comments and shares, many people believe the story — apparently unable to tell that the mugshot of Barnes was AI-generated. The story also taps into the American psyche by playing on themes of racial inequality, police brutality, and miscarriages of justice.

Nevertheless, it is extremely concerning that so many people would fall for a made-up story such as this one, especially as the 2024 presidential elections loom large in November.

TikTok users are supposed to disclose the use of artificial intelligence with the China-owned platform recently embracing the Content Credentials provenance system but — as demonstrated by Instagram’s “Made with AI” tags — social media platforms are having a hard time labeling AI-generated material correctly.

Fake news stories such as this one undermine the fabric of society and a former Google CEO has already warned that the U.S. presidential elections will be a “mess” because of images generated by artificial intelligence.

Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google’s parent company Alphabet, warned that generative AI will cause major problems during the current election cycle — because social media companies are unable to crack down on inaccurate or misleading content created by the fast-emerging technology.