I still exist, I’ve just been preoccupied the last few months trying to learn programming.
Archive link because the Daily Mail suck in general and don’t deserve clicks. (But they’re the only people who’ve done an article on this.)
Paedophiles are using artificial intelligence to generate sickeningly realistic indecent images of children - before sharing them on social media with other perverts.
Abusers have seized upon the latest image-generating software to fulfil their warped fantasies, MailOnline can today disclose.
And in some cases, perverts have gone further, experimenting with ‘deepfake’ technology to paste the faces of real-life youngsters and child actors onto naked bodies created by a computer AI, authorities say.
The revelation has shocked campaigners and prompted calls from child abuse charities for an urgent Government response, with Britain’s FBI, the National Crime Agency (NCA), insisting it is reviewing how new tech is being used by sex predators.
It follows the arrest of a computer programmer who used AI to create ‘truly shocking’ child porn images, in what is believed to be one of the first busts of its kind.
The man was tracked down by police in Spain, with investigators unearthing a ‘huge’ stash of hardcore pictures at his home in Valladolid, about 130 miles north of Madrid.
According to police he had also taken real images of children from the internet, writing them into sick scenarios that an AI image generator would create. He had also downloaded real indecent images, which included babies being raped.
The depravity of the pictures he created appalled even the most experienced detectives, with police saying: ‘The files, which caused a great impact to the researchers because of their extreme harshness, depicted real images of very young girls being raped and using disproportionate organs and sex toys.’
Britain’s NCA told MailOnline it was awake to the threat posed by sex offenders using hi-tech computer software to create vile images.
A spokesman for the force added: 'The amount of child abuse imagery found online is concerning; every year industry detects and reports an increasing number of illegal images. We constantly review the impact that new technologies can have on the child sexual abuse threat.
‘The NCA works closely with partners across law enforcement and wider government, as well as gaining insights from the private sector, to ensure we have the specialist capabilities to continue to detect and investigate AI-generated child abuse images.’
MailOnline understands images are being spread predominantly across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Perverts are also setting up groups on instant messaging apps Telegram and WhatsApp to ‘trade’ pictures, with others using TikTok - a social media platform popular with children.
Predators are even abusing Instagram stories to advertise huge online catalogues containing thousands of child sex abuse images, which deviants pay to download.
Campaigners have warned social media giants are not acting quickly enough when suspect accounts are reported.
It comes as MailOnline can today reveal how predators are starting to experiment with ‘deepfake’ software to paste the faces of real children onto the naked bodies of computer-generated characters.
Tech firms insist they have ‘strict’ rules to combat abuse and that they are using new software to hunt out and automatically delete known child abuse images.
But critics say the current measures are not up to scratch when it comes to seeking out computer-generated child abuse images, which are illegal to possess in the UK.
The news has outraged child protection charity the NSPCC, which says social media firms have a ‘moral and legal duty’ to act.
Richard Collard, the NSPCC’s associate head of child safety online policy, said: 'It can be incredibly distressing for parents and children to see their images stolen and adapted by offenders.
‘The negative impact can be just as significant as if the photos were unaltered. Perpetrators of abuse are increasingly becoming more and more technologically savvy which means that the threat of child sex abuse is constantly evolving.’
Mr Collard added: ‘Under the Protection of Children Act, it is illegal for these kinds of images to be made and circulated in the UK. That’s why, regardless of whether these are AI generated, social media companies have a moral and legal responsibility to intervene and crack down on these images being shared on their platforms.’
The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which finds, flags, and removes child sex abuse images and videos from the web, was also concerned by the reports.
Its chief executive, Susie Hargreaves, said the organisation had yet to see any deepfake abuse images of children.
But she added: 'Material depicting the sexual abuse of children normalises and perpetuates some of the most harmful kinds of behaviour. This is true even for deepfakes, or other AI-generated imagery.
‘We also know that accidently viewing child sexual abuse material online, can cause lasting damage for the person who stumbled upon it. It’s also illegal in the UK to host this type of material.’
The news comes amid growing calls for laws against deepfake technology following a porn scandal that rocked the world of young, online Twitch influencers.
Multiple young, female Twitch stars were disgusted to discover their images on a deepfake porn website earlier this month, where they were seen to be engaging in sex acts.
They had not consented to their images being used in the footage, nor were they even aware of them.
Terrifyingly, the creator - who has not been publicly named - was able to manipulate their likeness to make it appear as though they had taken part in the filming.
She has now vowed to sue the creator responsible, who has since removed the content.
The creator has not been publicly named. They are said to have scrubbed all traces of their old site from the internet after posting an apology.
The incident has sparked fears among young internet influencers and the wider public about the extent to which the advanced AI technology can be harmful.
Among those who discovered they were on the site was 32-year-old British Twitch star Sweet Anita.
'I literally choose to pass up millions by not going into sex work and some random cheeto-encrusted porn addict solicits my body without my consent instead.
‘Don’t know whether to cry, break stuff or laugh at this point,’ said Sweet Anita, one of the victims.’
Professor Ross Anderson, a professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge, said the debate surrounding AI-made indecent images and deepfake pornography was ‘complex’.
In particular, the US and UK were at odds over how its legislation handles offenders found in possession of such images.
‘Artificial images of child sex abuse are a point of contention between the USA and Europe, because the US supreme court struck down an attempt by Congress to make all such images illegal,’ Prof Anderson told MailOnline.
'The judges restricted the law to cases where a child had actually been harmed while the image was created.
‘As a result, if you have a cartoon image of Bart Simpson being raped by his dad’s boss, that will get you jail time in the UK, while in the USA it’s completely legal. It’s not seen as porn but as social commentary.’
The academic, who has carried out research into the UK’s new Online Safety Bill, raised concerns about the focus of authorities.
He claimed too much attention had historically been centred on targeting those who view indecent images instead of tackling the more ‘grimy’ and difficult contact offending.
‘This rapidly becomes a very complex issue,’ he added. The problem then is this law becomes a cultural war issue where the main problem here is police have put far too much effort in image offences because it’s easy and not contact abuse because it is hard - that kind of work is grimy and difficult.
‘There has historically been a lot of evidence of CSAM (child sexual abuse material) online because it was a useful hammer for the Treasury to raise funds. But it really has misdirected an awful lot of effort that should have been placed elsewhere.’
Social media giants have insisted they are acting - and are tightening online security measures to prevent indecent images being shared on their platforms.
Meta, which oversees Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, says it ‘detects, removes and reports millions’ of images that ‘exploit or endanger children’ every month.
This includes using technology to prevent links from other internet sites containing indecent images from being shared on Meta’s various platforms.
A Meta spokesperson added: 'MailOnline: 'Sharing or soliciting this type of content - including computer generated imagery - is not allowed on our apps, and we report instances of child sexual exploitation to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).
'We lead the industry in the development and use of technology to find and remove child sexual exploitation imagery, and we work with law enforcement, child safety experts and industry partners to identify new trends and remove illegal networks.
‘Our work in this area is never done, and we’ll continue to do everything we can to keep this horrific content off our apps.’
The company added it worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to flag illegal interactions which are then reported to law enforcement.