Deepfakes And AI Technology: The Dangers Of Creating Images Online

Person suspiciously using computer
Mike Wong

Deepfakes are videos of a certain individual whose face or body has been altered to typically spread claims, information or statements that are not true, and in a way, is designed to manipulate or deceive the other people watching the video clip into believing that what is being said by that person is true, when in reality, it isn’t. Mike Wong delves into the problems that can arise from Deepfake technology. 

Recently, there was a scandal involving Twitch streamer Atrioc who, alongside his wife, gave a tearful apology after being caught on stream watching deepfake pornographic videos of two popular Twitch female streamers; Moroccan Canadian Twitch streamer Pokimane and British Twitch Streamer Sweet Anita. Whilst both Twitch streamers did react to the apology, with Sweet Anita saying: “literally choose to pass up millions by not going into sex work and some random cheeto encrusted porn addict solicits my body without my consent instead.” She continued, “Don’t know whether to cry, break stuff or laugh at this point” in a Twitter post, and though Pokimane hasn’t yet commented on the scandal, she did say that she that it was “kind of scary” on how powerful and effective Artificial Intelligence (AI) was, since AI is now capable of producing realistic but fake videos.

Knowing the dangers of Deepfake videos, it has resulted in world governments taking action

Even before the scandal, the dangers of Deepfakes existed, but the scandal reinforced the warnings around the danger of spreading misinformation and creating an unsafe environment for online users, especially towards children and women. Deepfake videos often portray video clips of child sexual abuse and illegal pornographic material that didn’t receive consent from the person. Deepfakes are also used in the political sphere, where there have been video clips of politicians or world leaders giving speeches, statements or announcements that were simply not true and designed to lie to viewers. For instance, there was Deepfake video of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, where it was reported that he urged the Ukrainian troops and society to surrender to the Russian military, whereas in reality, it wasn’t true. President Zelenskyy did the exact opposite and responded with a real video of him in Kiev, saying: “We don’t plan to lay down any arms. Until our victory.”

Knowing the dangers of Deepfake videos, it has resulted in world governments taking action to tackle the problems of  videos that would be potentially harmful and dangerous to the person that was being shown in the clip, and efforts to force social media companies (Including pornographic websites) to remove any material that was considered harmful, dangerous and fake without any delay. In the UK, the British government introduced the online safety bill, which in short, ensures that social media companies bear full responsibility for keeping its users (children and adults) safe online, make it easier for users to report any illegal and harmful material to the company, which then must be removed As soon as possible, (ASAP), preventing children under the age of 13 from using social media platforms, and give adults more control in what they watch on social media platforms.

Much work remains to be done to permanently prevent future victims of illegal Deepfake videos

The bill, if passed, would be enforced by Britain’s Office of Communications (OFCOM), where they would be allowed to fine £18 million to any social media company in the UK that did not comply with the bill, and allow serious criminal action to be taken towards those who did not comply. As of now, whilst the bill is still under debate in the British House of Lords and isn’t perfect as one of its reforms states “the Bill will no longer define specific types of legal content that companies must address”. The bill also now includes the criminal offence of any material designed to force any dangerous “self-harm” to another person.

In conclusion, the controversy surrounding Deepfakes hasn’t faded, and whilst there has been efforts and laws either being amended, debated or passed to tackle the dangers of Deepfakes, much work remains to be done to permanently prevent future victims of illegal Deepfake videos from going out onto the internet. Lastly, considering that AI is constantly evolving and improving itself, it is apparent that the need to control or prevent AI from falling into the hands of criminals whose intentions are to inflict harm on children and adults by posting criminally abusive and violent videos without their knowledge or consent.

Mike Wong

Featured image courtesy of Anete Lusina via Pexels. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

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