January 31, 2024

AI-Generated Fake News Is Targeting Black Celebrities On YouTube

Sean "Diddy" Combs

YouTube videos are using a mix of AI-generated and manipulated media to create fake content with disinformation about dozens of Black celebrities, NBC News reports.

Diddy-related Fake News 

Many of the videos found include figures such as Sean “Diddy” Combs, TV host Steve Harvey, actor Denzel Washington, and Bishop TD Jakes. 

They have pushed fake narratives that stem from recent lawsuits against Combs.

Other videos have implicated figures like Jakes in the allegations against Combs without evidence and used manipulated media to depict the celebrities engaging in lewd acts.

NBC News reviewed a dozen YouTube channels posting what appears to be AI-generated fake news content about Black celebrities.

Many of the videos it reviewed are clickbait, meaning the YouTube video titles and thumbnails indicate narratives or allegations that aren’t in the videos themselves.

Some videos have millions of views, and each channel’s median number of combined views was 21 million.

Videos about Black celebrities often relate to actual events in the news, and by remixing real news with false information and allegations, they quickly gain traction.

Co-opting the Black American voice 

NBC found two of the 12 channels posting AI-generated fake news videos about Black celebrities started as technology review channels, posting videos that didn’t appear to feature AI-generated content.

After they posted several videos that each received under 1,000 views, both channels pivoted to covering fake stories about Black celebrities.

Two other channels of the 12 reviewed by NBC News had email addresses connected to Crealon Entertainment, a Swedish digital publishing company.

According to Crealon’s LinkedIn page, the company employs freelancers across several countries to create its rap-related content.

NBC also identified five YouTube channels about Black news and culture that feature real people in the videos but were reacting to and aggregating information from fake news videos.

Read: Cardi B Is Reportedly Threatening To Sue X User Who Shared Fake AI-Generated Information Of Offset

“They use the jargon of the culture, the slang of the culture because Black people trust Black media,” Angelic Nwandu, the founder and CEO of The Shade Room, told NBC.

“There has been a long-standing distrust with mainstream media in the way that our stories are told.”

Nwandu also said the issue of AI-generated and other fake news content about Black celebrities has become a problem for her team over the last year.

“We’ve seen these pages that pop up on YouTube or TikTok, and they will have an AI-generated picture of Rihanna crying over A$AP Rocky going to jail, and it’s completely fake,” Nwandu said.

“Our audience will DM and say “Why aren’t you posting this news?” “Why aren’t you covering this story?” Because they believe these pages.”

YouTube’s Response

YouTube has terminated both channels NBC News flagged that were linked to Crealon. 

In a statement to NBC, a YouTube spokesperson said the platform reviewed and took action on several of the channels it flagged.

This included terminating three channels for violating their Terms of Service, removing additional channels from their monetization program, and removing a number of videos and thumbnails.

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.