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Expert Claims Image of Trump and Epstein on a Private Jet is AI-Generated

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Trump sitting next to Epstein in a private jet
Source: Archived Post/Facebook

On January 8, 2024, a Facebook account with the name David H. Hock made a post that has since set social media abuzz. The post included an alleged picture of Donald Trump and Jeffery Epstein sitting next to each other in a private jet. 

The picture, if real, is quite old, as the duo looks much younger in the image. The post then had a caption that reads thus: “This is a picture of two guys on a private jet, going to a private island, that didn’t know each other.” 

However, former President Trump’s campaign team can heave a sigh of relief. Computer science experts conducted some investigations and forensic analysis of the image. They obtained evidence that the image was bogus and a product of editing done with artificial intelligence. 

The image has stirred much controversy because of Epstein’s unpopular reputation. This is because Epstein is a convicted sex offender and former financier. 

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In an investigative report by USA Today, reporters unearthed proof of the picture’s lack of authenticity. Before the recent Facebook post by the David H. Hock account was taken down, the post had already been shared about 700 times. 

However, the fact-finding investigation by USA Today revealed that the image has been in circulation since May 2023. Expert submissions insist that the original version of the viral photo has more pixel detail and is sharper.

On the contrary, the viral version is blurry and has gone through multiple retouching to make it look older. This is why the experts believe the latter image is the work of artificial intelligence. 

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According to Associate Professor Walter Scheirer, “The image carries multiple hallmarks of being an AI creation.” Prof. Scheirer also points out a significant flaw in the blurry image: Epstein has three legs in that version of the picture.

Other clues from the May 2023 version, which is clearer, are as follows:

  1. In the original image, Epstein was wearing a wedding band. Meanwhile, reliable sources confirm that Epstein never married. 
  2. A face, though warp, can be seen over Trump’s right shoulder. This feature is missing in the later version. 
  3. The reflections on the table are not consistent. This is not too obvious in the version in Hock’s Facebook post. 

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In Scheirer’s opinion, the creator did lower the resolution, rasterize the image, and make it look older. They must have had a second look at the flaws in their original creation and thought it reasonable to blur them out and, in effect, make them less noticeable. 

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Professor James O’Brien, a computer science expert from UC Berkeley, has a similar submission about the viral image and its original version. 

The USA Today team also went out of their way to run the two versions of the image on multiple systems to detect AI content. The original version was 98.6% likely to be AI-generated on Illuminarty.

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However, the score of the blurry version dropped to a paltry 14.3% and 0.1% on another outlet. This indicates that the AI source of the blurry image has a lesser probability of detection by AI detection systems or human experts. 

According to O’Brien, any human editor using AI to edit images can hide the peculiar flaws that would have revealed their source. All they need is to know what they are doing. 

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