Reports recently emerged that male students at Westfield High School in New Jersey allegedly used artificial intelligence (AI) to produce nude images of 34 female classmates. The images were created using original photos the girls had posted online over the summer.
14-year-old Francesca Mani was one of the victims. She told reporters, “I never thought I would be a target. AI didn’t even come to mind. I just thought I would be safe on the internet.”
Girls Report Images to School Administration
One of the boys told one of the girls about the images, who then informed the others. Mani said she didn’t know what to do at first, so she went to her school principal Mary Asfendis.
Principal Asfendis stated that she believes all of the AI-generated images were deleted and are no longer circulating online. However, a week and a half after the incident, the minor who allegedly created the images was only temporarily suspended for a few days. He has since returned to classes.
Multiple Boys Involved, Girls Fearful
Mani discovered it was not just one boy, but a group of teenagers who used over a dozen images of girls to produce the fake pornographic photos.
“All the other girls agree with me, they don’t want those boys in this school. They are very scared,” Mani said.
Mothers Call for Expulsion, Policy Changes
The mothers of the affected girls never imagined something like this would happen to their daughters. Mani’s mother is now calling for the expulsion of the boy responsible and changes to school policy.
“I don’t think my daughter, the other victims, and the girls at Westfield should be punished with another two and a half years of him in the classroom,” said Dorota, Mani’s mother.
Privacy Not Violated, But Trauma Created
AI ethicist Renee Cummings explained the complexity of the situation: “The challenge with this technology is that when it creates a deepfake of you because it’s not really you, your privacy is not technically being violated, even though your image has been swapped to create these traumatic situations.”
School District Responds
The superintendent of Westfield Public Schools acknowledged in a statement that “all school districts are grappling with the challenges and impact of artificial intelligence and other technologies available to students anytime, anywhere.”
He said the district has security measures to prevent this from happening on their network and devices. They will continue strengthening their efforts by educating students and establishing clear guidelines for responsible technology use in and out of school.
Inquiries into the case are still ongoing.