AI-generated image falsely shared as genuine 'giant octopus' on Bali beach

An AI-generated image of a massive cephalopod has been shared hundreds of times in social media posts that falsely claimed it showed a genuine "giant octopus" on the shores of Bali, Indonesia's popular tourist island. The image -- which contains various visual inconsistencies -- was first shared on Instagram by a self-described AI content creator.

"Giant Octopus found in Bali, Indonesia," read the Tagalog-language caption of a Facebook post, which has been shared more than 100 times since it was posted on June 7th, 2024. 

It included three images of what appears to be a huge tentacled creature on a beach.

A screenshot of the false Facebook post.

The same images were also passed off as genuine on Facebook here and on X here, where it was shared more than 1,000 times.

The posts were debunked by the US fact-check organisation Snopes.

Some users left comments indicating they believed the images showed a real octopus.

"Scary, but amazing," read one comment.

"It's very big...," said another. 

But reverse image searches on Google found the first instance of the image shared on Instagram by a user with the handle "best_of_ai" on June 2, 2024, days before the image began circulating elsewhere on social media alongside the false claims (archived link).

The user's bio stated they were a "digital creative" focused on "AI storytelling" using different AI techniques.

The post with the giant cephalopod was titled "The Mourning of the Abyssal Titans" alongside a lengthy caption that the user said was a fictional story about the imaginary creature.

The video featured nine other AI-generated images of a similar creature surrounded by people.

Below is a screenshot comparison of one false post (left) and the image shared by the Instagram user (right):

A screenshot comparison of the images in the false posts (left) and the user's original creations on Instagram (right)
Screenshot comparison of one false post (left) and the image shared by the Instagram user (right)

The account has frequently posted other AI-generated images of giant marine life, including here, here and here (archived links here, here and here). 

The "giant octopus" images featured several inconsistencies, such as extra limbs and headless bodies, indicating they were AI-generated, as highlighted in the screenshot below:

Screenshot of the AI-generated image shared on Instagram, with visual inconsistencies marked in yellow

AFP has repeatedly debunked social media posts passing off AI-generated images as genuine, such as here, here and here.

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