The mum of James Bulger has hit out at fake TikTok images of her son talking about his murder. Furious Denise Fergus branded the AI-generated videos “disgusting”. She added: “It is bringing a dead child back to life. It is beyond sick.”
The videos only deepen the unimaginable heartache his family have suffered since the toddler was murdered, Denise says. She blasted AI-generated images of the two-year-old that she says exploit his shocking killing at the hands of 10-year-old thugs Jon Venables and Robert Thompson. And she pleaded with the platform to take them down.
Dozens of creepy clips show animated children telling viewers: “Hello, my name is James Bulger.” The cartoon-style characters give details of his 1993 abduction and murder. James’ body was found by a railway and many of the TikTok images show the avatar by train tracks.
They are part of a disturbing series of videos showing fake versions of missing or murdered kids, including Madeleine McCann, Baby P and Rhys Jones. Some have been viewed tens of thousands of times and come with no content warning. Denise, 55, said she was particularly upset with appears to be a close copy of a photo of James, with his lips moving.
She added: “It is one thing to tell the story, I have not got a problem with that. Everyone knows the story of James anyway. But to actually put a dead child’s face, speaking about what happened to him, is absolutely disgusting. It is bringing a dead child back to life. It is wrong.
“To use the face and a moving mouth of a child who is no longer here, who has been brutally taken away from us, there are no words. I think these people must be disturbed. They have got to be. It is not just not nice for the parents to see. I don’t think anyone at all should be able to see stuff like this.
“To see his little face moving when he is no longer here, it is disgusting. It all should be taken down and stopped. It is not fair on the people who have lost children, or lost anyone. We are not just saying take James down, we are saying take it all down. It is beyond sick. Who can sit there and think of such a thing?”
Denise’s husband Stuart was alerted to the content earlier this year. He said: “When they first started appearing I thought it was a one-off. But then a few people started messaging me telling me about it, friends and family.” The videos are often voiced in American accents but there are Spanish and French versions. Stuart tracked down one producer of the clips, who appeared to be in the Philippines, and asked for the videos to be removed.
He received a reply that said: “We do not intend to offend anyone. We only do these videos to make sure incidents will never happen again to anyone. Please continue to support and share my page to spread awareness.” Stuart, 48, said he has reported the videos to TikTok but has not had a response.
He added: “It is not just James, it is other children, Madeleine McCann, Rhys Jones, any case like that. I don’t think these people understand the upset they are causing. Companies like TikTok should be held accountable. When you report it [to them] things should happen but it doesn’t.”