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Javier Izquierdo de la Rosa, from the Central Cybercrime Department: Press conference on the alleged deepfake scandal

Photo: Alex Zea / Europa Press / Getty Images

Police in Spain have launched an investigation into an alleged case of deepfake. In Almendralejo in the western Spanish region of Extremadura, AI-generated nude photos of more than 20 girls are said to be circulating at their schools, reports the daily newspaper »El Paìs« . In the meantime, ten underage suspects have been identified, some of whom are younger than 14 and therefore cannot be held criminally responsible.

Several mothers of the affected girls turned to the public. Perhaps the case attracted a lot of attention, since among them is Miriam Al Adib, a gynecologist with a large following on Instagram. She reported on the incident in a video lasting several minutes. Among other things, she wrote: "Girls, do not be afraid to report such acts." And to those "who came up with this": "If you are a little intelligent, help to make amends for what you have done".

She told the newspaper »El País« that she had just returned from a lecture tour in Barcelona when her 14-year-old daughter said to her: »Mom, look what happened. They've done that to a lot of girls." Then she showed her the photo. "My heart skipped a beat," says Al Adib. "If I didn't know my daughter's body, this photo would look real." She then joined forces with the mothers of other affected girls. One of them told Canal Extremadura that a boy tried to blackmail her daughter with a manipulated image.

María Guardiola Martín, the president of the autonomous community of Extremadura, pledged support to the girls and their families on X, the former Twitter. "Digital violence against women is a growing scourge," the post continued.

The technology behind deepfakes is based on so-called artificial intelligence (AI). Nowadays, it is easy to use even for laymen and increasingly delivers realistic results. Apps that have been installed millions of times make it possible to generate any fake videos for just a few euros.

In the case from Spain, the pictures are said to have been stolen from the girls' Instagram accounts. On these they were fully clothed. The perpetrators would then have edited them with the app so that they looked unclothed – and shared the new photos in WhatsApp groups.