Why everyone should be worried about the rise of deep fakes

Actress Scarlett Johansson has been a target of the deep fake trend
Actress Scarlett Johansson has been a target of the deep fake trend

Imagine being sent a porn video starring none other than you?

Only, you’ve never been a porn star and you’ve never recorded an X-rated video.

Photoshop and filters have long exposed pictures to easy manipulation. However to our unpleasant surprise, videos have also now become just as vulnerable to fakes that look real. 

Due to widely accessible artificial-intelligence software and DIY tutorials on YouTube, computer-generated porn videos multiply quickly across the web. And much like fake news, it can be difficult to distinguish the fake from the real. 

READ MORE: Revenge porn: Why do people feel the need to humiliate others by posting their nudes on social media?

'Deep fakes' are Al-generated pornographic videos that use pictures of ordinary women and celebrities.

Culprits source these pictures from social media and do a convincing face swap and the ‘creators’ of these videos graft a woman’s picture onto someone else’s body without their knowledge or consent.

Their video titles normally read something along the lines of, “leaked sex video of so and so”. 

Actress Scarlett Johansson is the latest victim of these disturbing videos, with her face grafted on numerous pornographic scenes. One of those videos has over 1.5 million views according to The Washington Post.

Talking about the ordeal, Scarlett says she tried to fight but it has proven futile. “I think it’s a useless pursuit, legally, mostly because the internet is a vast wormhole of darkness that eats itself,” she said.

READ MORE: UK tattoo artist takes on sexual misconduct in tattoo industry through #metoo

And that is what’s most horrific, that there’s not much legal recourse. In simple terms, we are all vulnerable to this destructive internet trend.

“Nothing can stop someone from cutting and pasting my image or anyone else’s onto a different body,” she explained.

Responding to the growing plight, Twitter says they are banning any non-consensual content, stating that this new trend is against their terms of use.

READ MORE: WATCH: Rita Ora and Cara Delevingne are standing up to cyberbullying

The only hope to fighting computer-generated fake-porn videos are the technical experts and online trackers, who say they are working on developing tools that will automatically spot these 'deep fakes'.

Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes, I believed it was authentic
7% - 362 votes
Yes, I didn't want to spend that much money on the original item
20% - 1047 votes
No, I always shop at reputable stores
13% - 693 votes
No, I don't wear designer clothing
60% - 3147 votes