What is the AI controversy behind Netflix's What Jennifer Did? Explained

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Netflix's What Jennifer Did true-crime documentary accused of using AI (Image via Netflix, What Jennifer Did Trailer, 00:46)

Earlier this month, Netflix aimed to further its true crime catalog with What Jennifer Did - a documentary about the horrifying events where Jennifer Pan, a young Canadian woman, hired three hitmen to try and murder her parents. While the documentary itself is portrayed as an objective reporting of the events, it has come under fire for its alleged use of AI.

Spotted by eagle-eyed viewers, Netflix has been accused of using AI in What Jennifer Did, which has left many disappointed. The accusation came when photos showcasing Jennifer Pan as a happy woman before the murder took place showed signs of artificial intelligence. The discovery of this has led to the documentary receiving major backlash.


Netflix accused of using AI in What Jennifer Did

The photos showcasing Jennifer Pan as a happy girl appeared 28 minutes into What Jennifer Did and are the main reasons for the controversy and backlash Netflix is facing. The AI use was first pointed out by Victor Tangermann of Futurism who pointed out that the images showed clear signs of artificial intelligence use.

In his report, Tangermann stated that the photos had all the signs of artificial intelligence usage in them. From mangled hands to inconsistent facial features, he pointed out how the photos were inconsistent and showed all the "hallmarks" of artificial intelligence usage. With the claims being made, the series started to receive backlash online, but Netflix still hasn't confirmed whether AI was used or not.

What Jennifer Did executive producer Jemery Grimaldi was also asked about artificial intelligence use in the documentary, but didn't confirm that it was used. He stated that the photos used were real, but to make sure that the source was safe they did "anonymize" the background. Here's what he said:

“Any filmmaker will use different tools, like Photoshop, in films. The photos of Jennifer are real photos of her. The foreground is exactly her. The background has been anonymized to protect the source.”

With artificial intelligence being a huge topic right now in the entertainment industry, the documentary's alleged use of AI is controversial because it is applied to a real-life situation, and not a fictional one.


What is What Jennifer Did about?

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What Jennifer Did is a true crime documentary that details how Jennifer Pan hired three hitmen to kill her parents because of her complicated relationship with them and their disapproval of her drug dealer boyfriend. The documentary uses police footage and videos from the court case while also interviewing those who had direct knowledge of the crime as well to tell the story.

The crime took place in November 2010 when three men broke into the house of Huei Hann Pan - Jennifer's father - and Bich Ha Pan - her mother. They were then shot by the men. Her mother succumbed to her wounds while her father survived the attack. Jennifer Pan was sentenced to life nearly a decade ago. The documentary is streaming on Netflix right now.

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