Pope Francis in Balenciaga deepfake fools millions: ‘Definitely scary’

Godless technology has made a mockery of papal regalia — and gullible social media users.

Pope Francis stunned viewers over the weekend after seemingly stepping out in an especially unorthodox outfit, as an image of the 86-year-old religious leader sporting a long white puffer jacket, designed by luxe fashion house Balenciaga, quickly went viral.

Internet users took the picture to be as true as the word of God itself — and lauded the Pope for his fashionable choice.

“The boys in Brooklyn could only hope for this level of drip,” the supreme pontiff’s puffy coat was captioned on Twitter. It has more than 20.3 million views and, now, a flag stating that it’s fake.

Portraits to follow captured Francis in sleek white gloves and pristine white sneakers — perhaps not a far cry from the Pope’s typically elevated uniform, but totally fake nonetheless.

The alleged artificial intelligence artist has been identified as Pablo Xavier, a 31-year-old construction worker from the Chicago area, Buzzfeed News reported on Monday. Pablo Xavier, who declined to share his surname, told the outlet that he was “tripping on shrooms” when he began toying with Midjourney, an AI tool that can generate realistic fake images.

'AI' fake image of Pope Francis in a puffer coat tricks the internet
The creator of this papal deepfake was “tripping on shrooms” when he devised this portrait of the Pope in a black leather jacket, gold-rimmed sunglasses and a thick gold crucifix chain.



“It just dawned on me: I should do the Pope. Then it was just coming like water: ‘The Pope in Balenciaga puffy coat, Moncler, walking the streets of Rome, Paris,’ stuff like that,” Pablo Xavier recalled in a statement.

Pleased with his work, the meme creator claimed that he shared the “perfect” pictures in the AI Art Universe Facebook Group, then on Reddit. But the image really took off once it migrated to Twitter.

Pablo Xavier claimed that he “didn’t want it [the pictures] to blow up like that” and admitted it’s “definitely scary” that “people are running with it and thought it was real without questioning it.”

“I feel like s–t,” he lamented. “It’s crazy.”

Pope Francis putting on a coat
Here’s a verified image of Pope Francis seen putting on one of his real coats in 2013.
'AI' fake image of Pope Francis in a puffer coat tricks the internet
The above image varies from the Pope’s “ordinary dress,” which usually consists of a white cassock (not slacks) and red, brown or black shoes.

The almost surrealistic images even fooled avid Twitter user and supermodel Chrissy Teigen, who tweeted Saturday: “I thought the pope’s puffer jacket was real and didn’t give it a second thought. no way am I surviving the future of technology.”

Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Finneas insisted in an Instagram Story on Sunday that “the pope’s puffer jacket is real if you want it to be.”

AI-generated photos of former President Donald Trump resisting arrest and running from the NYPD also made the rounds on Twitter last week as the embattled politician weathers possible federal indictment.

The falsified images showed an indignant Trump in the arms of officials as wife Melania and son Donald Jr. shout in protest of the arrest.