Original article (in Serbian) was published on 05/02/2023
The web portal Danas published an interview with a certain Daniel Smith, who is supposedly a British expert on international relations and security with a focus on the countries of the Western Balkans. After the user Mirko Rados published a series of tweets on Twitter last night in which he argues why he thinks Smith is a fictional character, Smith’s Twitter account was deleted. FakeNews Tragac points to elements of Smith’s “photograph” typical of photorealistic illustrations created with the help of artificial intelligence.
Twitter user Mirko Rados noticed several illogicalities in the presentation of the alleged British expert Daniel Smith. Among them, he states that it is not possible to find scientific references on Google that would support Smith’s expertise in international relations and security “with a focus on the countries of the Western Balkans”. In addition, Smith made too many linguistic mistakes on his Twitter, untypical for a native English speaker. Rados cites examples of omission of articles (“Hague” / “the Hague”), inconsistencies in spelling (American / British), as well as one tweet in English in which the Albanian word for circus was found – “cirk”. Not long after Mirko Rados’s post went viral, Daniel Smith’s Twitter profile was shut down.
Rados also doubted the authenticity of the Twitter profile of John Jackson, who also presents himself as an expert on the Western Balkans, and whose posts are similar to Smith’s. At the time of writing, Jackson’s account was locked.
This Person Does Not Exist
Danas is not the first media to publish an interview with Smith: Al Jazeera did so previously, sharing the same “photo” of Smith, with the note that it was “given” to the newsroom. Several elements typical for photorealistic illustrations created with the help of AI tools are noticeable in the photo.
For free, the website “This Person Does Not Exist” uses artificial intelligence to create photos of people who don’t exist. Although the result is quite convincing, some subtleties can lead you to the conclusion that it is an artificially generated photo. First, the photos from this site are always square, and the eyes are centred so that their position coincides horizontally and vertically with the eyes of other characters generated on this site.
The background in such pictures is often abstract and blurry, and there are frequent mistakes when fitting glasses, jewellery, scarves, and the like. In Smith’s photo, one can notice the centred eyes, the glasses whose frame is crooked, as well as the blurring of the image under the right frame of the glasses. Also, a strange protrusion is noticeable on the neck.
“Recognition of reality”
The text by journalist Ivana Sundic Mihovilovic was published under the title “Daniel Smith INTERVIEW: Vucic must understand that recognition of Kosovo’s independence is not a matter of compromise, but recognition of reality”. Answering tendentious questions, the interlocutor criticizes Serbia’s official policy regarding Kosovo and the war in Ukraine, stating – among other things – that “Vučić and Serbia are not interested in the rights of the Serbs in Kosovo, because the realization of these rights would free the Serbs and citizens of the Republic of Kosovo from the Vučić regime”.
In February last year, Danas’ journalist Ivana Sundic Mihovilovic published a text that was subsequently corrected due to incorrect information. “The author’s claim that Putin expressed his fear that ‘genocide is being carried out in Ukraine, as it used to be in Bosnia and Herzegovina’, was removed from the text because it was judged to be incorrect after an additional check”, writes Danas.
Interviews with Smith or his statements were shared by many web portals from our speaking area, as well as leading web portals in the Albanian language: Gradski.me, Idvojeno.ba, BH vijesti, Zhurnal.mk, Politiko.al, Kosova press, Zeri, Klan Kosova, Koha, Bota sot, Botapress, Gazeta express, RTK live, Demokracia, RTV21, A tv live and TheGeopost. Novosti also wrote about Smith – with an appropriate distancing regarding his expertise – and reported the response of the State Secretary in the Ministry of Defense, Nemanja Starovic, to Smith’s announcement.