Notes on the current moment, written quickly

Viral Can Also Refer To Disease

Not too long ago, I worked for a news organization that will go unnamed. Our team’s goal was to do trending or “viral” news. That worked as well as you could expect.

For many years, viral has been the goal. Everyone wants it like they want free sex. But you know what else goes viral? Disease. And this shit circulating on social media involving AI generated images like the famously VIRAL shrimp Jesus seems like an infection. Here’s a great run-down of what’s going on from 404 Media:

What is happening, simply, is that hundreds of AI-generated spam pages are posting dozens of times a day and are being rewarded by Facebook’s recommendation algorithm. Because AI-generated spam works, increasingly outlandish things are going viral and are then being recommended to the people who interact with them. Some of the pages which originally seemed to have no purpose other than to amass a large number of followers have since pivoted to driving traffic to webpages that are uniformly littered with ads and themselves are sometimes AI-generated, or to sites that are selling cheap products or outright scams. Some of the pages have also started buying Facebook ads featuring Jesus or telling people to like the page “If you Respect US Army.”