Google is introducing a new image search feature called “About this image”. It will allow users to check if an image is generated by AI, and where it first appeared online. This will enable Africans to independently fact-check the origin of AI-generated images. In response to the increased ease of creating realistic fake images using artificial intelligence tools, Google is implementing a new feature in its image search to combat the spread of misinformation. This feature will aid in curbing the proliferation of misinformation through misleading AI-generated images, such as the popular photo of the Pope in a puffer jacket. The upcoming feature, named ‘About this image‘, will provide users with additional contextual information about an image, including its indexing date on Google, its initial appearance, and its presence on other online platforms. The main purpose of this feature is to assist users in identifying the original source of an image, while also providing context by incorporating any debunking evidence provided by news organizations. According to its blogpost, Google is collaborating with various platforms like Midjourney and Shutterstock to ensure that they label their AI-generated content as such. Google will also do so for every AI-generated image produced by its tools. Significantly, the introduction of the ‘About this image’ feature coincides with Google’s upcoming release of its own textto-image generator. According to the company, this tool will include information that allows viewers to recognize the images as AI-generated.
AI-generated images in Africa
The widespread use of AI-generated images to disseminate misinformation or disinformation in Africa has been limited. However, there have been instances where Africans intentionally employed authentic or digitally altered images to mislead others, particularly for political reasons. In response to this challenge, Google has provided fact-checker tools and financial support to organizations dedicated to fact-checking, ensuring accurate contextual information accompanies published images and news. More recently, Google granted $2,000,000 in funding to Nigeria Fact Checkers, aimed at leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to combat misinformation during the just concluded general elections. Considering the increasing accessibility and popularity of technology, the potential impact of AI-generated images in Africa should not be underestimated. Google’s upcoming tool will further empower Africans by enabling them to independently verify the authenticity and origin of images.