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People like all sorts of dumb stuff and don’t think about it as much as internet experts do.

Facebook Is Being Overrun With Stolen, AI-Generated Images That People Think Are Real:

There is no polite way to say this, but the comments sections of each of these images are filled with unaware people posting inane encouragement about artwork stolen by robots, a completely constructed reality where thousands of talented AI woodcarvers constantly turn pixels into fucked up German Shepherds for their likes and faves. I tried to determine if the commenters, too, were bots. The vast majority of them clearly are not. Most commenters I looked into are people who have been judiciously posting family photos, political arguments, and status updates on Facebook for decades. 

This part was what nagged at me as I read this article, so I was glad to see Koebler raise it toward the end.

When I was still on Facebook, I had a few connections—mostly (but not entirely) extended family members or in-laws—who routinely reshared “inspirational” types of posts. These were usually heavily photoshopped nature/weather scenes, overly anthropomorphized animal behavior, and stuff that would have fallen into the old Snopes category “Glurge”. They all came from the same sort of meme-factory accounts that are now cranking out the AI stuff described in the 404 article, and the replies were all the same hollow, insipid comments.

I unfollowed the worst offenders for constantly sharing this junk, but I was always amazed at the size of the market for this stuff. Like, who sees a dumb joke from some Tampa radio station’s account in their newsfeed and thinks “Yeah, I TOTALLY need to reshare that to all of my friends”? A lot of people, apparently.

Once again, I think this is the NCIS pattern. In all of the cultural discourse throughout the 2000s and 2010s about the Golden Age Of Television, when the critics and the commentariat were obsessed with prestige shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, the viewership numbers for these shows was absolutely dwarfed by the number of people who tuned in for any of the myriad of weekly serials like NCIS: Whatever. Like, orders of magnitude bigger numbers. It wasn’t even close. And yet these shows barely merited even a passing reference in the discussions of Peak TV.

So I guess my theory of what’s happening here is a case of Sturgeon’s Law. For as long as there has been social media, there has been a demand for these sorts of junk posts. The vast majority of people on Facebook or any of the rest of these platforms are not sitting back and thinking about it the way cultural critics and internet pundits do. That’s not a criticism or an insult; social media is just a tool to most people, a place to kill some time while you’re waiting for the train or doing your boring job or to distract yourself from whatever is on the other screen. You’re not looking for anything more than a funny meme or the 2020s version of Hang In There, Baby, and when you see one, it’s easy enough to click Like or Share and that’s as far as the thought process goes.

What has changed over the years is that it is increasingly easy to generate (or copy, or steal) this content and to monetize it. My guess is that this is all basically a margin business, and the people running these pages could not care less what they’re sharing as long as it gets likes and follows and reshares.

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