AI Has Unlocked a Level of Facebook Pandering Previously Unknown to Science

We found it, you guys. We found the one piece of AI-generated Facebook sludge to rule them all.

As you've probably already read about or seen in the digital wild, Meta's flagship platform and former namesake Facebook is drowning in a fast-rising tide of AI-generate garbage. Spammers, ever eager to churn and burn through content, have taken to generative AI as a means of creating cheap and easily automatable virality-seeking imagery. And because this is Facebook, these fake images tend to center on themes and motifs that do well with the Boomer crowd that populates the platform: babies and kids, dogs, Jesus, pretty much anything America-coded — flags, bald eagles, cops, and so on — and US soldiers and veterans.

Which brings us to our Ultimate Pandering Sludge image, which falls into that last category. Published June 29 by an account simply titled "Babies adorable," the AI-spun image consists of a faceless figure in full Army garb, tactical vest and helmet included. Crucially, the figure is seated in a wheelchair — a hallmark of many of these spammy fake images, which often specifically depict disabled veterans — and is outfitted with two metal prosthetic legs. Both of these prosthetics, however, inexplicably extend into one giant, magnificent boot. Why? Who's to say! And like many of the other fake AI veterans being shared to Facebook, the soldier is holding a sympathy-clawing sign — although, we should note, it's pretty garbled.

"TODAY'S MY BIRTHDAY," reads the character's plea. "NO NO ONE LODE ME'S BECAUSE I'M POOR." (This seems to have been a bad AI attempt to generate the text "NO ONE LOVES ME BECAUSE I'M POOR," a phrase depicted in several other AI posts.)

Just incredible stuff. And overall, the image feels like an acute exhibit of the ways AI spammers are transforming Facebook into a parody of itself. After all, it has all of the makings of a more conventional, AI-free viral Facebook post: military personnel, conspiracy-coded dose of Americana, and a beg for a like or a share. Lensed through AI, however, the resulting output is distorted and exaggerated — sort of like Facebook, in the age of AI, is now just wearing a Facebook costume, massive single boot and all.

We'd also be remiss not to say a few words about the figure's surroundings, which reads like a conspiracy hive Batcave. (A prominent flag in the background also doesn't quite have 50 stars, but at this point, that's neither here nor there.) And in somewhat of a Count Rugen-esque twist, the alleged soldier only has four gloved fingers on their visible right hand.

The account "Babies adorable" is loaded with AI spam ranging from a Ripped Bald Eagle with Arms to an "Innocent" Dad Making Wooden Roses to many, many more images of soldiers and veterans with prosthetics. And while a lot of these images are undeniably funny in their perverse, clownish glory, the comments sections rarely fail to offer a sobering glimpse into the reality that some Facebook scrollers aren't quite getting the joke.

"Thanks for your services," one Facebooker replied to an AI image of a similar single-booted "veteran."

"Please don't vote," another user wrote back.

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