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This Image of LeBron James at the Barbie Premiere Is AI-Generated

Wesam Abo Marq Wesam Abo Marq
30th July 2023
This Image of LeBron James at the Barbie Premiere Is AI-Generated
The image of Lebron James in pink was created using AI-Midjourney (Twitter)

The Claim

An image shows the basketball legend LeBron James dressed in pink at the recent Barbie movie premiere.

Emerging story

Amidst the buzz surrounding the recent launch of the Barbie movie, an image allegedly depicting basketball legend LeBron James wearing pink attire at the premiere circulated widely by social media users.

One user tweeted, “Apparently Lebron James at the recent Barbie movie Premiere.... Humiliation ritual.”

A supporting image within the article body
A supporting image within the article body

Misbar’s Analysis

Misbar investigated the circulating image and found it to be fake.

The image making the rounds is AI-generated.

The Image of Lebron James in Pink Was Created Using AI-Midjourney

Misbar’s thorough reverse image search investigation revealed the image to be made by artificial intelligence.

Derick David, a Twitter user known for posting AI images, originally published the image of the basketball player on July 21.

Later, the same user clarified that the image featuring LeBron James dressed in a Barbie-themed outfit was digitally created by Midjourney.

This tweet quickly gained immense popularity, amassing an impressive 1.9 million views in just 24 hours. Interestingly, approximately 30% of the viewers believed the image to be genuine, despite its AI origins.

A supporting image within the article body
Photo Description: A screenshot of the original creator’s tweet.

"Around 30% of people who saw it believe it to be real. Although it’s not exactly a far-fetched idea for the NBA superstar. But many believe that ultra-realistic AI creations like this could create false narratives and can affect someone's image," the user states.

The user raised a thought-provoking question on July 28, asking what would happen if AI was employed to create propaganda. 

Furthermore, the user claimed that the image, originally created using Midjourney, on the right received a remarkable 20 million views on Twitter alone, and when considering views from Facebook and Instagram as well, the total reached close to 100 million. They expressed genuine concern about the rapid advancements in AI technology, finding it increasingly unnerving or frightening.

A supporting image within the article body
Photo Description: A screenshot of the original creator’s tweet.

Who Is LeBron James?

LeBron James, born on December 30, 1984, in Akron, Ohio, USA, is a highly regarded American professional basketball player. Often referred to as "King James," he is widely recognized as one of the greatest all-around players in the history of the sport. Throughout his illustrious career, he achieved success by winning NBA championships with three different teams: the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013, the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, and the Los Angeles Lakers in 2020.

In 2023, LeBron James accomplished a remarkable feat by becoming the NBA's all-time leading scorer, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's previous record of 38,387 points. This achievement solidified his position as a basketball legend and further contributed to his legacy as one of the most accomplished players in the history of the game.

"Barbie" 2023 Movie Box Office

The photo of LeBron James began circulating after the release of the "Barbie" movie in 2023. Directed by Greta Gerwig and co-written by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, the film is an American fantasy comedy inspired by the iconic Barbie fashion dolls created by Mattel.

"Barbie" received positive reviews from critics and proved to be a commercial hit, earning an impressive $472 million in global box office revenue. 

Al-Generated Images: A New Misinformation Threat

In a previous blog post, Misbar's team explained how AI image generators like DALL-E and Midjourney have become increasingly popular due to their user-friendly nature, enabling users to create images simply by providing text prompts. While DALL-E boasts over 3 million users, Midjourney's user base remains undisclosed but has had to stop free trials due to high demand.

Although generative AI is mainly used for entertainment and satire, its technology is advancing rapidly. In response, influential researchers, technologists, and public figures have signed an open letter advocating a six-month moratorium on training and researching AI systems more powerful than GPT-4, citing concerns about the potential spread of propaganda and misinformation through such advanced AI models.

In another insightful blog post, Misbar delved into the concerning issue of the malicious use of AI.

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