A school in Beverly Hills, California, US, has expelled five students after artificial intelligence-generated fake nude photos of their classmates were posted online.

The images, in which students' faces were superimposed over naked bodies, came to the attention of Beverly Vista Middle School officials in late February, Independent Turkish translated.

At a meeting Wednesday evening, the Beverly Hills Unified School District's board voted to expel five students who were "most egregiously involved" in producing and distributing the material, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The students were disciplined within 24 hours of the school learning of the incident, but officials have refrained from taking further steps until a full investigation is complete.

In a letter sent to parents and obtained by the broadcaster, District Superintendent Michael Bregy said 16 students, all in the 8th grade, were involved.

"This incident has triggered critically important discussions about the ethical use of technology, including artificial intelligence, underscoring the importance of vigilant and informed interaction in digital environments," Bregy wrote.

The children and their parents did not appeal the expulsion.

The Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office are conducting their own investigations, but no criminal legal charges have been filed so far.

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While California law covers possession of child pornography and non-consensual sharing of nude photos, it can be difficult to pursue criminal charges because there is no precedent yet for fake photos impersonating real people.

The Beverly Hills case is just the latest in a series of AI or "deepfake" cases in which women and girls have been targeted as victims.

Schools in New Jersey and Washington state reported similar problems in the fall, while lawmakers in New Jersey are trying to pass a law banning the material.

Meanwhile, a bill has been introduced in Washington DC to "protect national security from the threats posed by deepfake technology and provide legal recourse for victims of harmful deepfakes."

The Independent contacted the Beverly Hills Unified School District on Friday afternoon seeking further comment but did not receive a response.