Fact check: Photos showing Trump arrested by law enforcement are computer-generated

·3 min read

The claim: Photos show Donald Trump being arrested

A March 21 Instagram post (direct link, archived link) shows three images of police officers holding onto former President Donald Trump and another of Trump running from officers.

Three of the images were screenshots from a Twitter thread.

"Donald trump getting arrested today, what a time to be alive," reads the post's caption.

The post generated over 70,000 likes in a day, while the Twitter thread generated over 40,000 likes. Similar posts have spread widely on Instagram.

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Our rating: Altered

Trump had not been not arrested by law enforcement officers at the time the post was shared. The creator of two images in the post confirmed that they were computer-generated. The other two images are not authentic either, according to a forensic expert.

Photos are not authentic

Trump claimed in a Truth Social post that he expected to be arrested on March 21, in connection with a Manhattan district attorney investigation examining a $130,000 payment made to pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election, as USA TODAY reported.

However, no credible news reports show Trump was arrested on March 21. The Twitter account that shared the images in a thread also says in its bio that it is satire and parody.

The picture in the post of Trump almost falling to the floor surrounded by police officers and the fourth image of Trump on the ground were created by Eliot Higgins, an open-source investigative expert and founder of Bellingcat, a Netherlands-based investigative group.

These two photos, along with others Higgins created, appear in his March 20 tweet with the caption, "Making pictures of Trump getting arrested while waiting for Trump's arrest."

Higgins told USA TODAY that he used the tool Midjourney v5, an artificial intelligence generator, to create the images.

"Generally speaking you should look out for people with extra limbs or fingers," Higgins said. "Text is nearly always nonsensical, and logos and badges are often a mess. If you look at uniforms of the police you'll notice they are all slightly different. You might also see clothes blend into each other, or have strange textures."

Fact check: False claim video shows support rally for Trump after arrest rumor

It is not clear where the other two images in the post originated. But several features indicate the images are computer-generated, according to Higgins.

"Some of the fingers and hands look weird, Trump's hands are different sizes and the uniforms have small discrepancies with each other," Higgins said.

James O'Brien, a forensic analysis expert at the University of California, Berkeley, agreed, saying the images appear "like they have either been generated by AI or modified."

The Instagram user told USA TODAY that his Instagram page is a meme page and that he only posts content for humor.

The Associated Press, VERIFY and Reuters also debunked the claim.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Photos of Trump arrest created by artificial intelligence