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Doctored Donald Trump mugshots go viral

Images are AI-generated or digitally altered

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Claim: Several apparent mugshots of Donald Trump were shared online.

Fact: Most of the mugshots are either generated by artificial intelligence or digitally-altered old photos.

On 24 August 2023, former Republican US president Donald Trump was booked at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, Georgia, for allegedly attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential elections.

Trump had his mugshot taken and it is listed as Fulton County Jail Booking Photo #2313827.

The 45th US president is the first-ever American head-of-state to have his mugshot taken. The full list of the 91 charges against Trump is available here.

Several posts popped up on social media, claiming to show his mugshot, and consequently went viral, gaining hundreds of thousands of reactions, shares, and comments.

These include a photo showing Trump with the American flag and a bald eagle tattooed across his chest, showing the middle finger, with wrinkles on his face, wearing a suit and tie, with an angry expression, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, with his mouth open and a side profile, sporting a bald head, with his tongue sticking out, holding a prisoner card, with fluffy hair and a hard shadow behind him, and holding a card bearing the number ‘210819’.

Trump’s mugshot has already been released (archive) and the ex-reality TV star posted it on his account on X (formerly Twitter) in a bid to raise funds for his campaign that have so far crossed USD 7.1 million, according to spokesperson Steven Cheung.

Fact or Fiction?

The picture showing Trump with the American flag and a bald eagle tattooed across his chest has a Fulton County badge in the top-left corner but its right edge appears to be superimposed on top of the former president’s face, meaning it has been doctored. His hair and right ear look sketched and not photographed.

There are no reports that the Republican leader has any tattoos on his body either.

Lastly, the text “@Trump_History45” appears as a watermark on the photo, which is the handle of the X — formerly Twitter — user.

The picture of Trump showing a middle finger appears to have been expanded using Adobe Photoshop’s new Generative Fill feature, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to add to the original mugshot that has been publicly released.

Mugshots typically only show a person’s body upwards of their chest, not their hands. Furthermore, the Fulton County badge in the corner behind Trump’s head is proportionally incorrect.

The image of Trump with wrinkles on his face is generated by AI as one of the key identifying features of such creations is that the text is gibberish, given that the “current AI image generators lack this inherent understanding” and “have no true comprehension of what any text symbols mean”.

The pictures where he is wearing a suit and tie, with his mouth open and a side profile, and is wearing an orange prison jumpsuit have already been debunked by Forbes in a 30 March 2023 article (archive).

Soch Fact Check found a 21 March 2023 post on Instagram that includes a screenshot of this tweet and another image with the text “me when i consume purposefully spread misinformation on the internet,” which indicates that the mugshot in question is not authentic.

The three aforementioned pictures were also debunked here and here by Snopes, which is accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), of which Soch Fact Check is also a signatory.

The orange prison jumpsuit image, as pointed out by the publication, first appeared in this 14 September 2020 article (archive) and is an illustration by Joe Darrow using a Trump photograph by Mandel Ngan for Getty Images and the clothes from Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

The suit and tie has also been featured on Know Your Meme — a website that documents “Internet memes and other online phenomena” — on 21 March 2023.

The side profile picture has been doctored and the original has appeared in numerous media outlets, such as here, here, and here. The one with Trump facing the camera has appeared here.

Trump with an angry expression has been digitally manipulated, with the original from 20 November 2020 appearing here (archive) on Reuters, where it is credited to Carlos Barria. It is also available on British stock photography agency Alamy.

There are two images of the former US president sporting a bald head; the first one can be seen here and the second here. If Trump indeed went bald, it would have been reported on by major media outlets. We found that the first image is a digitally-altered version of the orange prison jumpsuit picture and the second one is a digitally-manipulated version of the photo published in this article.

The image of Trump with his tongue sticking out has been online as far back as 27 May 2018 when it appeared in The Daily Beast article and is mentioned as a photo illustration by Sarah Rogers.

The photo depicting Trump holding a prisoner card (archive) was tweeted by US Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, or MTG, with a link to merchandise titled, “Official Trump Mugshot White Cotton T-Shirt.” The image has appeared on the paperback cover of the book, “Donald Trump: The biography – The 45th President: From ‘The Art of the Deal’ To Making America Great Again,” by United Library, published 22 January 2021, and available on Amazon here.

The images of Trump with fluffy hair and a hard shadow behind him appear to be AI-generated since they show smudged, undefined hair, and a wax-like skin texture; the text behind him appears to be gibberish.

The picture of Trump holding a card bearing the number ‘210819’ is digitally altered, with the original one appearing in an 8 October 2020 article in The Washington Post, where it is credited to Erin Scott. The only association of the aforementioned number with Trump, when searched on Google, appears in a 21 October 2020 article, which mentions “210,819 registered Republicans in Lee County”.

Virality

Soch Fact Check found the false claims here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Conclusion: Most of the mugshots are either generated by artificial intelligence or digitally-altered old photos.


Background image in cover photo: Pawel Czerwinski


To submit an appeal on our fact-check, please send an email to appeals@sochfactcheck.com

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