Northern Irish police said Thursday an image posted on social media that appeared to show a person dressed as a Hamas militant at a Halloween festival may have been created by AI.
The image showed a person in a square in Londonderry holding a toy weapon and wearing combat gear with a Palestinian flag badge, a balaclava and a headband with “Hamas” — designated as a proscribed terrorist organisation in the UK — written in Arabic on it.
But police in the city, which is known as Derry to pro-Irish nationalists, said a public appeal for witnesses and security camera checks failed to help identify the person.
Acting Police Service of Northern Ireland chief constable Jon Boutcher told a policing board meeting there was “a suggestion… that it might even have been some sort of artificial intelligence image that was presented and has been circulated”.
“With the checks we have conducted, with no other sightings reported to us from members of the public, or from police officers on duty reporting seeing this person, I believe this is a fake image,” added local police chief Nigel Goddard.
“We have not had any reports of anyone seeing this person in Guildhall square dressed in this way, or found any other images online,” Goddard said in a statement.
“Whatever the intention of this image was, it serves as a timely reminder that not everything online is as it seems.”
The four-day-long event in Londonderry was attended by more than 100,000 people according to organisers who called it Europe’s largest Halloween festival.