Katy Perry and Rihanna’s Met Gala looks went viral. But they weren’t real.


Rihanna attends The 2023 Met Gala.

The annual Met Gala is a chance for celebrities to out-do their previous red-carpet looks on the steps of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and for the rest of us to observe (and critique) at home. But this year, it became a little harder to do so with confidence, thanks to the infiltration of artificial intelligence.

This year’s Met Gala was flooded with AI-generated celebrity looks, bestowed upon a roster of pop culture icons from Katy Perry to Rihanna. Some of these images were of people not even present at the event, while others, like Dua Lipa, were actually in attendance but had fake looks posted of them anyway.

Pop star Katy Perry was the subject of many viral AI looks shared online over the evening, including one that garnered over 300,000 likes and 13 million views. “Katy Perry. That’s it,” read the post on X (formerly Twitter). Later, readers added a community note to explain that the image was created with AI, and featured the Met Gala stairs from 2018, not 2024.

Other posts also showed Perry at the Met Gala, complete with outfits and even staircase decoration in line with this year’s theme, “The Garden of Time.”

Perry, who didn’t attend the event this year, reposted the AI-generated look on her Instagram page, using the opportunity to let fans know that she’s working on new music. “Couldn’t make it to the MET, had to work,” she wrote. In the post, Perry included a screenshot of texts with her mother — who had fallen for the AI conundrum — to which the singer replied, “lol mom the AI got you too, BEWARE!”

Other AI-generated red carpet looks targeted Rihanna, who also couldn’t make it to this year’s event according to People. One user imagined what the artist, who is usually a Met Gala stalwart and red carpet fan favorite, would wear to the event. Granted, it was a regal, on-theme look – but it’s entirely fake.

Readers also added community notes to these posts, writing on one of them: “This is either AI, or digitally altered. Rihanna has, at the time of this post, not yet arrived at the Met Gala.”

A digitally-altered picture of Selena Gomez, too, made the rounds, and hasn’t been debunked on X just yet. Gomez didn’t make it to the event this year, either.

Fake looks of Dua Lipa also circulated during the event, including some that were simply fake news. A post on X, for example, showed photographs of Lipa in a Regency-era corset dress, which was actually taken in 2021 but presented as if it was the singer’s 2024 Met Gala choice (Lipa wore a black lace Marc Jacobs dress to this year’s event).

The prevalence of these fakes, whether AI-generated or not, is on the rise. While AI-generated Met Gala looks are seemingly harmless, we’ve all seen the onslaught of deepfakes targeting celebrities in the last few months alone. And with this steady upsurge in AI-generated content comes confusion and a growing lack of media literacy: this already unreliable landscape of the internet could become so much worse.

Many people are aware of this, with many X users taking to the platform to express just how unnecessary AI is in the midst of the Met Gala, of all things. “Me trying to differentiate the real #MetGala pics on the TL from the AI ones,” one user wrote. “Getting very annoyed with the AI Met Gala tweets,” said another.

Tech itself played a big role at this year’s Met Gala, and not only with the unfortunate AI content. TikTok, the app facing an uncertain future in the U.S., sponsored the event, and its CEO Shou Zi Chew graced the red carpet. Meanwhile, TikTok influencers were notably missing from the limelight, despite the app’s sponsorship role and the greater spotlight on its cultural relevance. Instagram head Adam Mosseri also attended the Met Gala, following in the footsteps of other tech leaders who have previously been invited.

The Met Gala, which has become increasingly intertwined with social media, presents an interesting case for tech. The interest in the event makes for easy viral content — but the prominence of AI this year highlights the scary reality that the internet is getting harder to read and believe.

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