Fact Check

Is This a Real Pic of Elon Musk Holding Hands with AOC?

Other photographs link the billionaire to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors.

Published March 27, 2023

 (blovereviews/Twitter)
Image courtesy of blovereviews/Twitter
Claim:
Photographs show Twitter CEO Elon Musk holding hands with U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors.

On March 26, 2023, a number of photographs of Twitter and Tesla CEO Elon Musk went viral, claiming to show him holding hands with different women, including Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

The first photograph from @blovereviews appeared to show Musk holding hands with Barra. 

A few hours later, the account shared another photograph claiming, "Hours after being seen with Mary Barra, Elon Musk was spotted with AOC." 

Neither of these photographs was real but rather were digitally manipulated by an artificial intelligence (AI) program. There is no evidence that Musk was with either of these women. Barra and Ocasio-Cortez are both in committed relationships, and neither would realistically be seen walking around in public with Musk in that manner. 

The woman in the above tweet is definitely not Ocasio-Cortez — for a comparison, see a picture of Ocasio-Cortez here. Musk also tweeted a response to the photograph with Barra, stating, "I would never wear that outfit."

The creator of the images also admitted to the digital manipulation. Brian Lovett, a tech YouTuber, acknowledged that he used the AI program Midjourney and did not make the images "completely photorealistic." He noted how many online honed in on the hands in the photographs and other elements that seemed off. 

But he said that he wanted to show "where we are at with this technology[...] already at a crazy and somewhat alarming place." 

He even joked about getting a response from Musk on Twitter:

It is getting harder to spot a "deepfake," which is an image or video created with the aid of artificial intelligence (AI). We put together a guide on how to spot them, here

Given that the creator of the photographs has himself admitted to manipulating images of Musk and the two women, and that there's no evidence that such interactions took place in real life, we rate this claim as "False." 

Sources

"Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Engaged to Her Longtime Boyfriend, Riley Roberts." Vogue, 19 May 2022, https://www.vogue.com/article/alexandria-ocasio-cortez-riley-roberts-engagement. Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Evon, Dan. "How to Spot a Deepfake." Snopes, 8 June 2022, https://www.snopes.com/articles/423004/how-to-spot-a-deepfake/. Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

"Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Rashida Tlaib Listen To..." Getty Images, https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/rep-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-and-rep-rashida-tlaib-listen-news-photo/1162827657. Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Vlasic, Bill. "New G.M. Chief Is Company Woman, Born to It." The New York Times, 10 Dec. 2013. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/11/business/gm-names-first-female-chief-executive.html. Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.