“Can’t imagine this happening to a male MP. What gives?” Purcell added, using the shorthand for a member of parliament.
The original image, in which Purcell wore a white dress, had been edited to show her in a crop top and skirt, with her stomach revealed and with larger breasts. The Nine Network used the altered image as part of a graphic for its evening news bulletin.
“Hot tip 9 I’ve got my whole stomach tattooed,” she wrote, referencing the ink-free midriff in the altered image.
Hugh Nailon, director of 9 News Melbourne, said in a statement that the image was the result of an error that occurred due to “automation by Photoshop” when the network’s graphics department was resizing an image it had sourced online.
“This did not meet the high editorial standards we have and for that we apologize to Ms Purcell unreservedly,” he said.
A spokesperson for Adobe, which publishes Photoshop, said in an email that the edits “would have required human intervention and approval.”
A Nine spokesperson said Photoshop’s Generative Expand AI tool had been used on a cropped image of Purcell, with the intention of increasing the dimensions of the photo to fit the graphic used in the news bulletin. Adobe says the tool can fill empty space “with newly generated high-quality content that naturally blends with the existing image.” The spokesperson said Nine was reviewing its use of the technology.
In a later statement, Purcell said that the debacle was an example of the “constant sexualization and objectification that comes with having images leaked, distorted and AI-generated.”
“Let’s be clear — this is not something that happens to my male colleagues,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
A lawyer who is among the youngest members of parliament, Purcell speaks openly about her past work as a stripper and topless waitress and against the sexism and misogyny she has faced before and after entering politics.