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What is DEEPFAKE and how it can affect you?

Imagine seeing yourself in a video and having no recollection of it whatsoever. You are dressed in clothes you have never seen before, saying and doing things you would never do on a regular basis. This is a distinct possibility for everyone, celebrities or regular persons, thanks to the age we live in, the Deepfake age.

Deepfake is a technology used to manipulate human images based on artificial intelligence. It can superimpose images and videos onto source footage using a variety of machine learning techniques. What is so special about Deepfake, then? The images or videos made using it are looking strikingly authentic. We could even say that this is the best AI application available now.   

The term, which applies to both the technologies and the videos created with it, is a portmanteau (a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others). It started in 2017, on Reddit when a user used deep learning technology to edit the faces of celebrities in all kinds of pornographic clips. So, Deepfake joins deep learning and fake.

This technology is commonly found in pornography where it is used for swapping celebrities' faces with those of porn stars to make it look like they are doing or acting in a way they won’t normally do, in politics to distort interviews or opinions of important leaders, in movies, where it can be used to provide more realistic expressions for an actor who will be impersonating an animal or a character that doesn’t resemble a human being, or used by fans to create new movies that don’t actually exist starring their favorite actor, and as well all over social media where you can pose as anything that you want.

How can this affect me? - one might wonder. Well, this is very simple. The fact that someone can use this technology to create videos that look so real means that just about anyone can create a Deepfake to promote his own agenda. Although this might not affect you personally, the fact that the media can be so easily filled in with so many fake videos can be worrying. Some people can take such videos as real and that will lead to people completely stopping trusting in the validity of any video content at all.

Although it might look like a technology that can only facilitate fake news, it can also be used to ease fraud. Audio Deepfakes can be used as part of social engineering scams. Using the voice of a trusted individual or even of a family member, people are being fooled into sending money or providing valuable information to strangers and scammers.

As more and more people are starting to realize what a threat Deepfakes can be, they are trying to create solutions and take measures against them. The most popular technique is to use algorithms similar to the ones used to build the Deepfakes in order to detect them. At the moment there are no laws that will protect one from a Deepfake, however regulators and lawmakers will continue to grapple with this problem. 

Since no one could ever know if this could happen or when it will happen we should be more careful with the source of videos we are sharing, the authenticity of the information provided in the video or news, and, furthermore, we should always check that we are actually speaking with someone we know, before providing any valuable information.