Conservatives are spreading images online that purport to show Satanic clothing being sold at Target. But the images aren’t real and were generated with artificial intelligence (AI).
In numerous posts across Facebook, users shared images of everything from children wearing shirts with inverted pentagrams to a red, horned-goat mannequin.
“Target has really gone over the edge,” the user Linda Vee Sado wrote. “Not enough they are making girlie swimsuits for little boys to tuck. They need to go away too.”
Target has been faced with backlash from conservatives in recent weeks for offering pro-LGBTQ clothing during Pride Month. The company also stirred controversy among the right after they incorrectly claimed that the company was selling Satanic merchandise as well.
Others who shared the images called for Target to be boycotted further due to child models supposedly being forced to wear Satanic attire. In reality, the children pictured are AI-generated.
“Look at the faces on these children, I feel in my spirit, they even knew there was something satanic with making them be photographed with these clothes on,” the Facebook user Christian Patriot wrote. “If you are a Christian and a parent and you shop at target, Lord, have mercy on you.”
Although the posts were eventually flagged as containing manipulated media, Sado, one of the Facebook users who spread the images, doubled down on their claims.
“You will find articles denying this stuff is going on, but go take a look at their stock,” she wrote. “They are saying there was never anything Satanic yet they pulled a bunch of things and then moved the rest to the back.”
Target did move some Pride merchandise to the back of its stores after its employees were met with threats of violence. None of the merchandise, however, featured Satanic imagery of any kind.
The manipulated images, as reported by Reuters, were created late last month by AI artist Dan Reese. In remarks on Facebook, Reese notes that he used the AI software Midjourney to create the images.
In response to people falling for his first images, Reese also created a second set of AI-generated pictures on Wednesday showing children in Satanic clothing at Target.
“They’re Targeting Our Children (part 2),” he wrote. “These are fake AI images that I made with Midjourney. Please share responsibly.”
Users in the comments were quick to note how the last set of images fooled many online.
“You know there are people posting these?” one commenter asked. “Your original got many shares by conservatives who don’t fact check anything.”
Other companies including Bud Light and Chick-fil-A have faced similar boycotts in recent days and months for enraging conservatives.