By Vida Roque
You may have seen some circling online if you type ” #deepfakes” in the search bar on YouTube. You will find some humorous ones like Keanu Reeves in Forest Gump Deepfake or Rob Swanson as Wednesday Addams. You will even find deepfake tutorials.
If you search on the app store, you will stumble upon deepfake apps where you can put yourself into your favorite music video or scene from a movie, such as Deepfakes Web and Wombo. According to Webwise.i.e, deepfakes are “fake videos created using digital software, machine learning, and face-swapping.” At first glance, it looks harmless until you find videos of female celebrities or even your next-door neighbor circulating on the internet.
QTCinderella, a 28-year-old American Twitch Streamer, fell victim to having her face pasted into an X-rated video in February of this year, one of several high-profile victims. Sweet Anita, another social media star, and Emma Watson, Scarlett Johansson, and Michelle Obama have fallen victim to deepfake porn clips floating around the internet.
Even those who are not as well-known have been targeted, such as writer Helen Mort. In 2017, Mort found pornographic deepfake images of herself on the internet. She explained to BBC that the photos came from her private social media profiles.
To this day, she still does not know who uploaded them.
In 2019, before deepfakes were popular, the MIT Technology Review shed light on an app called DeepNude, addressing the danger. Users would upload a picture of a woman wearing clothing for $50 and receive a photo of her appearing naked. The software used did not work on men. Westerlund researched the emergence of deepfakes. The first pornographic deepfakes were of celebrities’ faces found on Reddit in 2017. In 2023, deepfake software is becoming increasingly accessible and easy to use, raising concerns for private individuals, specifically women and underage girls.
When I asked a QCC student about her thoughts on the issue, she expressed her fear of deepfakes: “As a young woman who is on social media, I have pictures of myself on there. The fact that even if my page is private, my face can be pasted onto something so vile is extremely disturbing. On top of that, it being indistinguishable from the real thing is even scarier. This could affect someone’s whole career.”
The majority of these deepfake pornographic videos may be straightforward for Artificial intelligence to detect; however, not for those individuals who are just scrolling on the internet. A victim of these X-rated videos could apply for a job, and once the establishment does a background check and discovers the video, they will not likely bother to find out if it is legitimate or not.
Since deepfakes and deepfake pornography are still new, the more arduous it becomes for victims of these internet crimes to bring these criminals to justice. In New York State, bills are being proposed to tackle non-consensual deepfakes.
However, Virginia, Texas, and California currently do not have restrictions against using deepfakes, but technological advances are improving to make deepfakes more challenging to detect.
While many are outspoken on the concerns of the abuse of this technology, some fail to sympathize with the victims and believe that simply having your face on the internet makes it automatically consensual. The main concern is that the longer this goes on, the more taxing it becomes to distinguish what is real or fake on the internet.Â