Misinformation in the age of the deepfake
2019 can be marked as the inflation of deepfake production, and celebrities and public figures are the primary targets. Deepfake videos are a form of artificial intelligence (AI), which can be described as computer-controlled robot that performs human tasks.
Deepfakes are created with the use of Al learning techniques, or by simply going on YouTube and finding numerous tutorials with step-by step instructions. Methods of deepfake include face swaps, audio deepfakes and deepfake lip-synching.
Early versions of deepfake videos were created to enhance movies. In the film Forrest Gump, filmakers inserted a footage of JFK where they manipulated his mouth movements, even though the video did not occur. They first entered the mainstream on Reddit, where fake pornography was created, and their prevelance has doubled since 2018. Now they’ve become so accurate that politics are involved. Soon, it will affect our elections, journalism, national security and democracy.
This was not a big concern until a video of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, appeared online. Pelosi was speaking at the Center for American Progress Ideas Conference. In the footage, the creators made Pelosi appear drunk or ill. Her statements were slowed down by 75% from the actual talking speed. It appeared she was stumbling and slurring her words. This was shared over various social media platforms, including Facebook, who refused to delete it. Even though the video was edited with a low-tech approach, it was successful for Trump supporters.
Other deepfake videos have been spreading around. Specifically, Mark Zuckerberg talking about “total control of billions of people’s stolen data” and Barack Obama calling Trump a “complete and utter dipshit,” as well as Ryan Reynolds appearing as Willy Wonka, Elon Musk as a baby and Jim Carrey as Jack Torrance.
Deepfake videos could change the way people think by undermine the reputation of politicians. According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, nearly 68% of Americans believe that made-up news and information affects Americans views of government institutions.
Deepfake videos could be used as a “perfect weapon for purveyors of fake news who want to influence everything from stock prices to elections,” according to CNBC.
An average person with a modest amount of data and computing power could create a video of any world leader confessing to any illegal activities or an exaggerated claim.
Although deepfake videos still contain small glitches and imperfect facial matches,technological advancements could allow deepfake videos to be more accurate within months. This can ruin people’s careers.
Spotting a deepfake can be difficult, causing a threat to upcoming elections. Before, hackers would rely on spoofing emails. But with the ability to use deepfake software, audio allows them to convince a drastic amount of viewers quickly.
Voters for the upcoming 2020 presidential elections could struggle to know what is real and what is fake. Russia’s involvement in 2016 United States presidential elections shows how easy it is to convince social media users about fake news. Deepfakes will be the fake news of 2019. They don’t create a new problem, but they do enhance an existing problem. Our understanding of truth is on the line.
Leaders or candidates could use deepfakes to escape accountability for their wrongdoings. They could simply say “that’s fake news.” There will be the risk that liars would use deepfakes in their favor. Knowing the truth will become difficult during presidential elections if we are questioning it and believing the lies.
Alma Guardado is a second-year social studies major who will be just fine when the machines become sentient. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.