‘It’s not even real??’: Social media stunned by AI image of Pope Francis wearing stylish puffer coat

Pope Francis arrives at Commonwealth Stadium to give an open-air mass on July 26, 2022 (Getty Images)
Pope Francis arrives at Commonwealth Stadium to give an open-air mass on July 26, 2022 (Getty Images)

An AI-generated image of Pope Francis looking extremely stylish in a large white puffer coat has gone viral on social media as it left viewers in shock and confusion.

The image, created by an AI (artificial intelligence) image generator, portrays the head of the Catholic Church wearing a pristine long-line puffer coat over his traditional white robes, with his cross on a chain dangling over his chest.

Many social media users, including Chrissy Teigen, have expressed confusion over whether or not the fashionable photograph is real or fake, as more realistic AI images portraying famous figures flood the internet.

In recent days, fake images of former US president Donald Trump, Russian president Vladimir Putin, actor Will Smith and more have been created and posted on social media.

Reacting to the image of the Pope, Teigen tweeted: “I thought the Pope’s puffer jacket was real and didn’t give it a second thought. No way am I surviving the future of technology.”

YouTube vlogger Keyon Elkins wrote: “The picture of the Pope in a puffer trench coat is AI????? I’ve been gagging all day and it’s not even real???”

One Twitter user declared: “Time to ban AI. I fell for that picture of the Pope looking dripped out in a puffer jacket. I feel like a WhatsApp aunty now.”

Others expresed concerns over how realistic the image is and how AI may affect people’s perceptions.

“The fact people find a picture of the Pope in a long puffy jacket thrilling is a good indicator AI is going to have a really easy time destroying humanity,” one person wrote.

Technology executive and US political adviser Lucy Caldwell added: “PSA that the photo that is making the rounds today of the Pope in a puffy white coat and that is activating many of you is not real.

“And, in conclusion, we’re going to need to get our acts together pretty quickly re: discerning what is real and what is not now that AI is here.”

Recently, AI-generated images showing Trump in prison and wearing an orange jumpsuit have spread across social media as the former president is under criminal investigation.

It comes after Trump predicted he would be arrested. The fake images have sparked concern among lawmakers and experts who fear it could spread harmful disinformation.