Fact Check: Image Of Human Hands Packaged For Sale As Meat Is NOT Real -- AI-Generated

Fact Check

  • by: Sarah Thompson
Fact Check: Image Of Human Hands Packaged For Sale As Meat Is NOT Real -- AI-Generated AI Generated

Does an image circulating on social media showing what appear to be skinned human hands in vacuum-sealed packages provide evidence of human meat on the market? No, that's not true: Many clues in the image point to it having been generated with an AI program. The earliest copy of the image Lead Stories has identified was posted on a Facebook page dedicated to "Virtual Art." All the hands pictured are left hands, and many of them have only four fingers. The AI detection tool by Hive Moderation rated this image 78.3 percent likely to be AI-generated.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) by Gabar Zacchaeus on March 21, 2024, with the caption:

Human Meat On The Market ! ( SELAH )

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Mar 27 15:04:46 2024 UTC)

This image provides a good case study in how verification is a process. At the current time there is not one simple tool that can always reliably determine if an image is AI-generated, but many other processes together can develop a reliable conclusion.

This image is full of intuitive clues that it is not a real scene, starting with the most obvious -- that it depicts a shocking display of human body parts for sale, presumably for consumption. The hands in the packages, all of them left hands, resemble marbled steaks, and do not feature normal human hand anatomy (graphic here) -- nor do these hands in the image even share consistent anatomical features. Many of these AI-generated hands only have four fingers -- problems with rendering hands and the correct number of fingers are a well-known glitch encountered in AI-generated images. The display has far too many shelf price markers for a display of only one item and the text on those labels does not say anything -- they look like shelf labels, but only superficially (pictured below). Text-like shapes and word-like strings of letters are another common tell found in AI-generated images.


(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Mar 27 16:12:55 2024 UTC)

Additional practical clues that this is not real are that there is only one still image of the scene and it appeared in a small period of time on many social media platforms. Even the posts circulating on TikTok (here and here) are only a video of this one still image with no additional details, claiming:

There now selling human hands going on 2 months now

The platform Hive Moderation has developed an AI-Generated Content Detection tool that can be used with a browser extension or by uploading an image to the website. When Lead Stories used the Hive browser extension to rate the image posted by Zacchaeus (below right), it returned a very low rating of only 3.5 percent: "The input is likely to be: Not-AI-Generated." This rating was clearly a false negative, which we have encountered before -- commonly when an image had been degraded, perhaps through saving, resizing and reposting.

Lead Stories then worked to find the earliest and best quality copy of the image with a search with Google Lens. Among the search results (archived here) was a March 19, 2024, post from a Facebook page Nik Art. The Nik Art page, titled "Virtual Art" in the intro, has a public group titled AI Universe, which leaves little doubt about the origin of the page content.

To test the functionality of the extension as much as to test the image, Lead Stories put the Nik Art hand image through the Hive browser extension. First without enlarging (below left) a very low rating was returned, only 11.3 percent. This was higher than the Zacchaeus version but still, "The input is likely to be: Not-AI-Generated." We then enlarged the image to full screen (below bottom) and got a 78.3 percent reading: "The input is likely to be: AI-Generated."


(Source: Lead Stories composite image with Facebook screenshots taken on Wed Mar 27 15:46:05 2024 UTC)

Additional Lead Stories fact checks on claims springing from AI-generated content can be found here.

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  Sarah Thompson

Sarah Thompson lives with her family and pets on a small farm in Indiana. She founded a Facebook page and a blog called “Exploiting the Niche” in 2017 to help others learn about manipulative tactics and avoid scams on social media. Since then she has collaborated with journalists in the USA, Canada and Australia and since December 2019 she works as a Social Media Authenticity Analyst at Lead Stories.


Read more about or contact Sarah Thompson

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