(Daily Caller News Foundation) – Girls at Westfield High School in New Jersey were left shocked when they discovered boys were circulating fake nude photos of them, according to a Thursday report from The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
The incident started Oct. 16 when sophomore boys at Westfield High were acting “weird,” one mom told WSJ, sharing what her daughter had passed along to her. On Oct. 20, one of the boys spilled: at least one student had used online tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to create fake nude photos of their female classmates using pictures of them that were already on the internet, according to WSJ.
Digitally altered or deepfake photos and videos have exploded in recent years. Briefly searching online will lead users to dozens of tools that offer face-swapping and “clothes-removing” capabilities. Pornographic material makes up the majority of deepfakes created on the internet, WSJ reported, citing image-detection firm Sensity AI.
Westfield High School confirmed the incident in an email to parents, according to WSJ. A spokesperson from the school declined to elaborate on exactly how many students were involved or if the school had taken disciplinary action. The school also declined to comment on whether Westfield staff members had seen the digitally created images.
One of the victims, identified as Francesca, discussed her reaction to the images during a Monday group meeting at her house. Westfield High parents, town council members and a member of the school board were among those in attendance. WSJ tuned in via the phone.
“At first I cried, and then I decided I should not be sad,” Francesca said. “I should be mad and should advocate for myself and the other victims.”
The victims are finding they may not have a clear legal avenue to press charges against the creators of the deepfake, the outlet reported. Nationally, there is no law against deepfake porn creation. A few states, including New York, Minnesota and California, have laws prohibiting the distribution of deepfake porn.
It’s possible the victims in this case could benefit from laws pertaining to child sexual-abuse material, the outlet reported, citing intellectual-property lawyer Natalie Elizaroff. However, the threshold to prove guilt is higher. The depicted individual must be determined to be a minor, the content must be explicit and someone needs to have created, possessed or distributed it.
The incident has made the girls rethink what they post online, and some decided to delete social media altogether, per WSJ.
“We’re aware that there are creepy guys out there,” one of the victims said, “but you’d never think one of your classmates would violate you like this.”