Viral pictures of Pope Francis wearing puffer jacket are AI-generated

27 March 2023
What was claimed

Pope Francis was photographed wearing an oversized white puffer coat.

Our verdict

These images were generated using artificial intelligence.

Tens of thousands of people on social media have shared a picture of what appears to be Pope Francis wearing an oversized white puffer coat on social media. 

However, while these images look extremely realistic, they were actually generated using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. 

There are several versions circulating on social media, featuring Pope Francis apparently wearing a large white coat, alongside others where he is posing in sunglasses or in large gold and white trainers

While many of these posts make it clear that they are not real photos, others do not—leading some social media users to question their veracity. 

It’s always worth checking whether content is real before you share it. We have written a guide on how to verify viral images which you can read here.

As a Twitter community note pointed out, the original image was actually one of several created by someone using an app called Midjourney, an AI programme which allows people to generate images using prompts. 

A number of posts on social media give suggestions on exactly what prompts to enter in order to create these images of the Pope. 

The technology can be used to create any image based on a prompt, with other similarly-created images going viral in recent weeks. For example, fake images of former US President Donald Trump apparently being arrested were shared thousands of times on Twitter. 

Image courtesy of the Korean Culture and Information Service (Jeon Han)

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