Deepfake - A Fun App Or The Most Dangerous Technology In The World?!
In recent days, an extremely realistic deepfake featuring a computer-generated Tom Cruise, who looks deceptively like the real actor, has become an Internet hit. It has already been called one of the best deepfakes ever, but it has also received a fair amount of criticism. How is it possible that this remarkable technology is causing a lot of concern and controversy? Why has it even been called the most dangerous form of crime by some experts? In which countries is it considered a violation of the law to spread deepfakes and why are some social media platforms also fighting against them? Read on to find out more about this technology and why it's considered dangerous!
What Is Deepfake?
Photo and video editing applications are becoming more and more sophisticated. They can already be used to enhance a person’s look in photos, lengthen legs, remove pimples, and create fake images that look very realistic. Recently, deepfake technology has become extremely popular for users of cell phones or computers with internet access. With its help, it is possible to make a really convincing fake, as it is a sophisticated artificial intelligence that allows you to swap the face and body of any character or person. It’s what allows us to look like a Hollywood star, pretend to appear in hit movies or music videos. It is used to create manipulated videos, photographs, or sound recordings in which the original content is changed according to the intentions of the author.
It first became talked about in 2017, when a man uploaded several adult videos online with the faces of famous celebrities such as Gal Gadot, Maisie Williams, and Taylor Swift embedded in them. So it appeared amidst a scandal but also because of this, it also gained fame. Like mushrooms after the rain, more and more edits like this started to appear, as well as apps that allowed to create fictional photos and videos in a very simple way. The Chinese app called Zao became a real hit. In it, the users uploaded their selfies, which then allowed them to put their faces onto those of celebrities, such as Marilyn Monroe or Leonardo Dicaprio. Millions downloaded it to their phones in 2019, but the app was quickly criticized heavily for being too lax in protecting personal information and using photos uploaded to the app for marketing purposes. On a similar note, such accusations were also made against the popular app, FaceApp, which became famous for allowing users to see what they might look like when they were older.
The number of applications using deepfake technology was growing all the time, and as thousands of modified clips appeared thanks to them, it became clear how easy it could be to contribute to the spread of false information. Back in 2018, the website Buzzfeed decided to draw attention to this serious problem by posting a video online that seemed to show President Obama cursing and calling out then-President Donald Trump. About halfway through that video, however, it was made clear that the clip had been fabricated using deepfake, and that the former president’s voice and mouth had been digitally altered creating a very realistic impression that what we were seeing on screen was complete truth. Immediately after, the popular video editing technology was named, and we quote, “the feature of fake news”, and it didn’t take long for these words to be confirmed.
Nancy Pelosi Victim Off Deepfake!
Soon a video of Nancy Pelosi mumbling during her speech appeared on Facebook. Before it was revealed that the video was actually a fabrication, the internet was abuzz with comments accusing Pelosi of appearing on camera after drinking high percentage beverages. The alteration was so credible that even on Facebook it was verified as true and when it became clear that it was not, the administrators quickly blocked it.
Zuckerberg Vs Deepfake!
It is worth noting that last year, this popular social media platform took a firm grip on any photomanipulation or clips in which it is suspected that a person has been impersonated by another face or voice. This type of content is promptly deleted, helped by a collaboration with several universities in the United States as part of the Deepfake Detection Challenge, which aims to create new tools to help detect deepfakes. They also decided to fight them after Mark Zuckerberg himself, the founder of Facebook, became the protagonist of such crafted clips. In 2019, a video, created using deepfake technology, was published on Instagram, in which Zuckerberg points out how people can be manipulated by social media. Pretty ironic, don’t you think?
Queen Elizabeth Vs Deepfake!
And last year, on Christmas Eve, Channel 4 viewers could see rather unusual wishes from Queen Elizabeth II. The queen spoke in the clip, among other things, about problems that affected the royal family in 2020, about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and about her husband Prince Philip. Then she also mentioned the movie Home Alone and Netflix and at the end, she started dancing to some upbeat music. You may be thinking to yourself right now that someone made a good joke. But the truth is that this clip, created in reality with deepfake tools, was made for a specific purpose, namely to draw attention to the problem of falsifying reality with this tool. The clip was also accompanied by a telling comment stating that advanced technology makes it possible to spread misinformation on the internet and what we see or hear on the screen is not always what it seems to be. Channel 4 also showed exactly how the video with the queen was made.
Deepfake In Cinema!
Here we can’t ignore the fact that, however, most often the protagonists of videos that use deepfake technology are famous celebrities and Hollywood actors. Thus, some time ago clips in which Nicolas Cage’s face was edited on almost all popular scenes from movies broke records of popularity, no less stirring was the use of Jim Carrey’s face in scenes from the production of The Shining. The application is already being used in some Hollywood films, for example, to replace the faces of actors or characters that are no longer with us, and many note that it produces much better effects than the commonly used CGI technology. Examples include the striking clip of Salvador Dali animated or a fan video of a rejuvenated Carrie Fisher, which presented much better than the shots coming from the Star Wars movie, Rogue One.
Dangerous Use Of Deepfake?!
Films made with the use of deepfake technology are getting better and better nowadays. An example of this is the clip starring Tom Cruise has appeared on TikTok. In fact, it is hard to tell whether we are dealing with the real actor or his digitally created double, and according to experts, it is one of the best deepfakes we have seen on the Internet so far. Although there was no end to the admiration, and the clip itself on the platform was viewed by more than 10 million people within a few hours, very quickly there was also criticism. It has been argued that since the technology can already produce such believable yet terrifying results, it may soon turn out that deepfakes will be virtually undetectable, and thus may become an effective tool in the hands of criminals.
Deepfake & Bullying?!
Many scholars agree that deepfake is now the most dangerous weapon of the future, which can be used for a range of violations, from spreading false information, to humiliating others and even harming other people. Besides, one already hears about scams in which the software is able to perfectly imitate another person’s voice, and thus, easily extort money. Besides, deepfake is dangerous even in the hands of ordinary people, as exemplified by a story just a few days ago. This is because a woman frmo Pennsylvania decided to ruin the lives of several teenage girls who were her daughters’ rivals on the cheerleading team, using this technology and photos available on social media. With the help of fake content, the woman wanted to force them to leave the team and ended up receiving charges herself and being charged with online harassment.
Deepfake Could Result In Criminal Charges?!
The immense popularity of deepfake technology raises concerns that in a moment, every video on the internet will have to be viewed with the knowledge that it may have been manipulated. Although it is important to note that some steps are already being taken to prevent this. We previously mentioned Facebook’s initiative to detect manipulated photos and videos. Google is taking similar measures. Besides, financial penalties have started to be introduced for distributing remade videos without the consent of the person whose likeness has been used. In countries such as China and Singapore, spreading deepfakes and false information using them is treated as a crime. If the author does not disclose that the content is false, they may be fined up to $700,000 or imprisoned for up to 10 years.
So what do you think about deepfakes? Do you think they are actually a source of such great threats? Or is it just a fun thing to make funny videos and edits?