AI-Generated Image Sparks Controversy in Viral Online Warfare – Who’s the Real Creator?

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Two creative individuals from Malaysia, separated by 900 miles, find themselves embroiled in a controversy over a viral synthetic image of Gaza. The image, dubbed “all eyes on Rafah,” has garnered immense attention online, sparking a debate on authorship and ownership in a digital landscape dominated by AI-generated content.

The saga began with Zila Abka, a 39-year-old science teacher and AI art enthusiast, crafting a political art piece using Microsoft’s Image Creator. Her artwork aimed to shed light on the plight of those seeking refuge in Gaza’s Rafah city. Following a World Health Organization representative’s use of the phrase “all eyes on Rafah” to draw attention to the crisis, Abka generated an image featuring white tents spelling out the powerful words.

Abka shared her creation on a Malaysian AI artists’ Facebook group, Prompters Malaya, hoping to raise awareness and solidarity for Gaza. Little did she know that her image would later surface with alterations and without her watermarks. Amused by the resemblance to her work, she realized that another Malaysian, Amirul Shah, had seemingly reproduced her image and added a surreal touch of snow-capped mountains.

Shah, a 21-year-old college student and photographer, denied copying Abka’s creation, attributing the similarities to his own experimentation with AI image generation tools. Despite the striking resemblance between the two images, Shah maintained that he had not seen Abka’s work before crafting his version. The controversy highlights the challenges of attributing authorship to AI-generated content, as both parties offer differing accounts of their creative processes.

While Abka expressed initial frustration over the lack of credit for her work, she ultimately acknowledged the limitations of claiming ownership over AI-generated images. Similarly, Shah emphasized his intention to advocate for Palestinian rights through his art, rather than seeking fame or recognition.

The debate surrounding the viral image underscores broader concerns about the authenticity and impact of online activism, particularly in a digital era inundated with AI-generated visuals. As discussions continue on the blurred lines of digital creativity and ownership, Abka and Shah’s differing perspectives shed light on the complexities of navigating a virtual landscape teeming with realistic AI depictions.