What are deepfakes, and why we should be worried about them

The internet has in the last few years become a central part of most people’s lives. People spend hours glued to their digital screens seeking entertainment and information from the web. Gone are the days when you needed a PC to access the internet. Smartphones have made it easier for anyone to get to the net as they’re easy to come by.

What are deepfakes, and why we should be worried about them

Social media platforms keep sprouting up each new day. Here, users get to share content such as pictures and videos. While the internet has made a lot of things easy, it also has a dark side that’s hard to ignore. Some technological innovations have paved the way for people with malicious intentions to manipulate content, churning out fake information as they wish.

Deepfakes are the new biggest trick which has already been used much to the disadvantage of many people. Essentially, Deepfakes are fake videos. These however come with a high degree of manipulation where it would be very hard to realize that they’re indeed staged. They’re much more advanced than photoshop and other techniques that have been in use to create fake illusions. These are videos where a person’s voice and face can be manipulated through digital means to say anything the programmer desires. It literally puts words in one’s mouth.

Famous personalities such as Mark Zuckerberg, Taylor Swift and Gal Gadot are just examples of individuals who have been depicted in compromising situations using deepfakes. The Facebook CEO was for instance shown to make inflammatory comments about how he is in control of billions of stolen data and basically, everyone’s life. While these videos were detected for what they were, fakes, there is still much to worry about. As Vivienne Rook, a fictional character in BBC’s drama Years and Years says, “Of course they’re fake videos, everyone can see they are. All the same, they really did say those things, didn’t they?”

This is to mean that these videos create a lasting impression on people who get to watch them. It’s becoming a concern in the US that this uncouth manner may be used during the upcoming 2020 elections. Programmers wishing to damage someone’s reputation can make deepfakes depicting whatever they want. With the internet, information spreads fast. However, the negative news always gets more attention and shares. Also, to keep in mind that while a fake video may be called out for its fakeness, not everybody who has already watched it may get to know the truth. It’s become the ultimate reputation destroying tool.

What are deepfakes, and why we should be worried about them

What’s even more worrying is the fact that that while attempts are being made to make it easy to spot these expertly done fakes, the fakers are also polishing up their game. There may come a time where video evidence does not hold water anymore in courts because of this backward trend. And no, this is not something that only tech savvy programmers are able to do. Anybody can access the software to make these videos, with apps being available. This makes it so easy for anyone to fall victim. More than ever, it’s time we got into a habit of double checking whatever is trending on the net.

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