No, Katy Perry and Rihanna weren't at the Met Gala: How AI photos tricked the internet

AI-generated photos of celebrities on fashion's biggest night went viral, and many couldn't tell truth from deepfake.
Rihanna attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala in 2023.
Posted at 6:10 PM, May 07, 2024

Didn't Katy Perry look amazing at the Met Gala? And then there was Rihanna, looking as stunning as ever, right?

Well, wrong. While the women would've likely looked amazing at Monday's event, they didn't … because they didn't go, despite what some circulating photos might have made you believe.

This year, instead of fans waiting to see what Perry and Rihanna chose to wear to fashion's biggest night, the fans chose for them, creating AI-generated photos of the stars walking the infamous Metropolitan Museum of Art's steps in elaborate gowns fitting the "Garden of Time" theme.

One photo posted on X shows Rihanna in a cream dress with forest detailing and a huge circular silhouette extending past her head as she poses for photos presumably at the Met, even though she was reportedly home sick with the flu.

Another shows Perry wearing a cream dress adorned with flowers and moss around its bottom hem on the Met steps, which are notably carpeted in gold and red. She was also captured wearing a golden corset and skirt made of greenery posing on a green-and-white carpet, which was the true color of this year's runway.

And because we never really know the full guest list at the New York City event or which rumored attendees are actually coming (ahem, Rihanna), many people thought the AI renderings were real. The image of Rihanna now has 6.7 million views, and the first of Perry posted on X has 15.5 million along with 314,000 likes. (All three images now carry community notes stating they're AI-generated.)

Deciphering the truth of the images that evening — beyond the wrong carpet color being used — probably wasn't helped by a quick glance at Perry's Instagram feed, because the singer posted both deepfakes. However, checking all five in the carousel would've shown she appeared to be in the studio the night of the event.

But if you're feeling down because you fell for the tech trick, you're not alone; Perry's mom, Mary Hudson, is right there with you.

The singer also included a screenshot of a text exchange with Hudson in her Instagram post in which her mom sent her the cream ball gown photo with the message, "Didn't know you went to the Met … What a gorgeous gown. You look like the Rose Parade. You are your own float lol." Perry responded with, "lol mom the AI got you too, BEWARE!"

Similar photos also floated around of Dua Lipa with bangs and wearing a corseted white dress before the singer was shown on the real carpet with red hair and an all-black look. The same goes for Lady Gaga, who was seen in an AI-generated photo wearing an extravagant white circular gown on the carpet despite not attending the event this year.

While these deepfake photos of stars celebrating the Met Costume Institute's new exhibition, "Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion," aren't necessarily harmful, it's a testament to the ease at which the general public can create and distribute believable photos of public figures at any time.

Zendaya attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit gala.


Met Gala 2024: What your favorite celebrities wore on fashion's biggest night

Alex Arger
6:14 PM, May 06, 2024

Viral deepfakes have involved everyone from President Biden and other politicians to Pope Francis wearing a Balenciaga-inspired white puffer jacket. There was also a spread of AI-generated, sexually explicit photos of Taylor Swift that prompted an explosion of the hashtag "ProtectTaylorSwift."

Social media platforms have begun notifying users if they're seeing fake images, like with the community notes noting AI images, and just taking down others that cross the line. But the subjects of these deepfakes are taking action to protect themselves too.

Last month, more than 200 artists, including Katy Perry, signed an open letter calling on AI developers and tech companies to cease the use of AI to protect their "privacy, our identities, our music and our livelihoods."

Lawmakers have also introduced multiple bills targeting the issue, including the DEFIANCE Act. The bill, which stands for disrupt explicit forced images and non-consensual edits, was proposed in the wake of the posts involving Swift and would allow victims of sexually explicit deepfakes to sue those who create the images if the individual did so with intent to distribute or with knowledge or reckless disregard for the fact that the victim didn't consent to the conduct.