How to tell the difference between AI-created images and real people online

How to tell the difference between AI-created images and real people online
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/MJTH

Photography is a widely used art form in the nation and in places beyond. “Self-portraits,” a genre in the medium, and “headshots,” modern-day portraits, have become easier and more accessible to take because of technological advances, such as the installation of high-quality cameras in smartphones, tablet devices, and more. But with these groundbreaking advances bring new, chilling inventions in the digital universe that can challenge everything we know and understand about operating in the digital world.

The last time you logged into your social media and viewed an advertisement, did you know that you could have been glancing at a fake person? There are real, verified businesses who sell fake digitized people, or AI (Artificial Intelligence) created people. There are various websites where you can design AI-created people meticulously, from age and ethnicity to mood and voice.


But not everyone seeks to use AI for good reasons. This advancement in the digital world has attracted more trolls and hackers to social media sites and others because of their ability to blend in and pose as people who do not exist. Also, “catfishing,” which is a deceptive activity where someone creates a false identity on a social media platform with an intent to begin a romance, commit fraud, exploit the victim’s identity, or more, can be done simpler.

The next time you’re glancing at a picture of a stranger and want to know if the person is real, study the photograph with these instructions in mind:


1. Examine the subject’s face.

  • Real people have slightly symmetrical faces. It is extremely rare for someone’s face to be perfectly symmetrical.

2. Observe the background.

  • Abstract backgrounds are popular among AI-created people.

3. Look at the subject’s accessories.

  • If the subject is wearing glasses, which is a common accessory in AI-created people, make sure that the frame of the glasses lines up and that the ends match.
  • Oftentimes, AI-created women will wear mismatched jewelry.
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