Amnesty removes AI-generated image of woman in Colombian protests
Amnesty International have deleted AI-generated images of a female protester being dragged away by police after a backlash from photojournalists.
The human rights watchdog said it artificially edited the images to protect the identities of activists who sometimes face retaliation from authoritarian regimes.
The images include one of a woman being dragged away by blurry-faced police officers during fatal protests that swept across Colombia in 2021.
“We have removed the images from social media posts, as we don’t want the criticism for the use of AI-generated images to distract from the core message in support of the victims and their calls for justice in Colombia,” Erika Guevara Rosas, director for Americas at Amnesty, told The Guardian.
“But we do take the criticism seriously and want to continue the engagement to ensure we understand better the implications and our role to address the ethical dilemmas posed by the use of such technology.”
Juancho Torres, a photojournalist based in Bogotá, told the paper the images would cause credibility issues.
“We are living in a highly polarised era full of fake news, which makes people question the credibility of the media. And as we know, artificial intelligence lies. What sort of credibility do you have when you start publishing images created by artificial intelligence?”
Gareth Sella was blinded in his left eye when a police officer in Bogotá shot him with a rubber bullet at the protests. He argued that hiding the identity of protesters makes sense to protect them from ending up in jail on inflated charges.
According to Colombia’s Human Rights Ombudsman, at least 42 people have been killed in protests which started on April 28, 2021, over a tax plan the government has since removed. Activists said the protests turned violent after a brutal military police response.
In cases documented by Bogotá-based Temblores, women were abducted, taken to dark buildings, and raped by groups of policemen.
Amnesty International said it had used photographs in previous reports but chose to use the AI-generated images to protect protesters from possible state retribution.