AI is all the rave right now, and deepfakes have taken center stage in the circus of technological marvels. In today’s increasingly digital world, where information can spread like wildfire, the rise of deepfake content has sparked a pressing need for regulation for so many viable reasons.
Deepfake’s creations have emerged as a potent tool capable of manipulating public perception, violating privacy, defrauding individuals, and generally reducing public trust in the media.
As the boundaries between reality and fabrication become increasingly thin, it becomes imperative to explore the reasons why deepfake should be regulated. In this post, we delve into the negative implications associated with deepfake technology, highlighting the urgent need for effective regulations to protect society.
Understanding the Need for Immediate Deepfake Regulation
The utilization of deepfakes for manipulating the public and disseminating false information is not a new phenomenon, yet it remains a paramount reason why deepfakes should be regulated now more than ever.
The alarming surge in deepfake videos highlights the gravity of the issue. A study conducted by Deeptrace sheds further light on this concerning trend. In December 2018, there were approximately 15,000 deepfake videos on the internet, a figure that rapidly escalated to 558,000 by June 2019, and ultimately surpassed one million by February 2020. As of this moment, that figure has of course multiplied beyond what we can count.
This again reiterates the need to regulate deepfakes as soon as yesterday. Deepfakes can be used for malicious purposes such as spreading fake news, initiating targeted disinformation campaigns, or defaming individuals. Moreover, the viral nature of digital content amplifies the potential harm caused by deepfakes.
With the rapid sharing and dissemination of information online, false and misleading deepfake videos can quickly reach a wide audience, making it challenging to contain their influence or correct the misinformation effectively. This can lead to long-lasting consequences, as false narratives created by deepfakes persist in public consciousness even after they have been debunked.
Let’s Talk Privacy and Consent Folks
Deepfakes have taken the art of digital mischief to a whole new level, with apps that make it possible to switch your face onto explicit or compromising content within minutes.
While deepfakes have garnered significant attention for their potential impact on politics, it is important to recognize the broader dangers they pose, particularly in relation to privacy. While political figures have been subject to deepfake manipulation, perhaps the extent to which deepfakes directly influence politics has been somewhat exaggerated.
However, the true gravity of the deepfake threat lies elsewhere, as it predominantly targets individuals in a manner that violates their privacy and personal autonomy, with a focus on women.
According to a report by Sensity AI, a staggering 96 percent of deepfakes were categorized as non-consensual sexual content, and an overwhelming 99 percent of these targeted women.
Notably, female public figures and social media influencers find themselves particularly vulnerable to these sexually explicit deepfakes. In fact, the prevalence of such videos in South Korea has reached such alarming levels that citizens have petitioned their government to take immediate action in addressing this issue.
People are becoming increasingly worried about becoming victims of deepfake technology. And who can blame them? Nobody wants their face plastered on an embarrassing video without their consent. Revenge porn and cyberbullying are no laughing matter.
Not to mention that deepfake can also be used as means of identity theft.
Erosion of Trust in Visual Evidence
Digging further, deepfake technology has the potential to erode trust in visual evidence, undermining the authenticity of recorded events and testimonies. The consequences of this erosion can be particularly severe in legal proceedings. This vulnerability can lead to wrongful convictions or the acquittal of guilty individuals, jeopardizing the fairness and credibility of the justice system.
As per the consensus among technologists, expressed by Hani Farid, a renowned authority on deepfakes, “When we can no longer place trust in videos, audios, images, and the information we gather globally, we confront a grave national security risk.”
To protect individuals, societies, and democratic processes from the detrimental effects of deepfakes, regulation is essential. Implementing robust regulations can help establish clear guidelines on the creation, distribution, and authentication of digital content, including deepfakes.
It can also foster accountability among creators and platforms, deter malicious actors, and provide legal remedies for victims of deepfake-based harm.
How Are Social Media Platforms Addressing the Regulation of Deepfakes?
Social media companies are like the bustling highways of digital content. They bear the burden of most of the wild stuff that gets shared around, making them central players in the fight against deepfakes.
The widespread availability and ease of sharing content on platforms magnify the potential impact of deepfakes, making it important for these platforms to adopt measures to detect and mitigate their dissemination.
However, the challenge lies in the fact that social media platforms operate across various jurisdictions, each with different legal frameworks and cultural contexts. This necessitates a multifaceted approach that strikes a balance between protecting users and preserving freedom of expression.
Responses From Tech Giants About Deepfake Regulation
Recognizing the gravity of the deepfake problem, the bigwigs in Silicon Valley have donned their capes and joined forces to combat deepfakes. Facebook, for instance, has decided to put its money where its mouth is and coughed up a cool $10 million to tackle this digital menace.
They’re not alone in this fight, mind you. Other tech titans like Google, Twitter, and Microsoft have jumped on the bandwagon, ready to throw their weight behind the cause.
This substantial investment demonstrates the commitment of platforms to combat deepfakes effectively. These companies have initiated collaborations with academic institutions, research organizations, and industry experts to develop advanced detection technologies.
The Regulatory Rumble: Social Media Giants vs. The Government
As noble as the efforts of social media platforms are, the deepfake conundrum is no walk in the park. Regulations and policies are still catching up with this ever-evolving issue. Governments and regulatory bodies are grappling with the challenges posed by deepfakes.
Not to mention the tension between freedom of expression and the need to curb the spread of deepfake content. Striking an appropriate balance requires a collaborative effort between governments, technology companies, and civil society to develop clear guidelines and legal frameworks that can effectively address the threat of deepfakes.
How Are Governments Around The World Responding to The Deepfake Saga?
In a joint effort, governments worldwide are mobilizing to tackle the deepfake menace. The European Union (EU) has emerged as a frontrunner in addressing the issue of deepfakes and disinformation. Demonstrating a forward-looking approach, the EU published a comprehensive strategy earlier this year, outlining guidelines and actions to combat various forms of deliberate disinformation, including deepfakes.
Over in the United States, politicians from both sides of the aisle are throwing down their concerns about deepfakes. It’s a rare sight, to see a bipartisan dance where lawmakers join hands to address a common threat.
OpenAI’s CEO, Sam Altman, even made an appearance before Congress, sounding the alarm bells and calling for safety standards to rein in the dangerous potential of AI models. The Biden administration has also prioritized AI as an important issue, leading to increased efforts on Capitol Hill to draft legislation addressing the impact of deepfakes and the broader implications of AI technology.
China, with its ever-evolving technological landscape, has also taken distinct steps to combat deepfakes. Last year, the country enacted regulations that explicitly prohibit the production of deepfakes without user consent.
These regulations require the identification of content generated using artificial intelligence. While China’s approach may be seen through the lens of its unique political and social context, it highlights a clear recognition of the potential dangers posed by deepfakes and the need for legal safeguards.
International Cooperation Against Deepfakes
Beyond individual efforts, governments recognize the importance of collaboration on a global scale. International cooperation enables the sharing of knowledge, expertise, and best practices in countering the deepfake threat.
Forums such as the G7 and G20 have become platforms for governments to collectively address the challenges posed by deepfakes, facilitating the development of coordinated responses.
By joining forces, governments can harness collective intelligence to stay one step ahead of the rapidly evolving techniques used in creating and disseminating deepfake content.
In addition to regulatory measures, governments are investing in public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives to equip individuals with the necessary tools to navigate the digital landscape. By raising awareness about the existence and potential harm of deepfakes, governments aim to foster critical thinking and media literacy skills among citizens.
Have We Missed the Boat in Regulating Deepfakes?
The fast-paced evolution of technology means that if we don’t act promptly, we might find ourselves playing catch-up with AI and specifically, deepfake. In the race against deepfakes, timing is everything.
While it’s true that currently, a fair bit of technical knowledge is required to create credible deepfakes, we can’t afford to rest now. It’s like trying to catch a high-speed train while wearing roller skates. By implementing regulations now, we can stay ahead of the game, protecting society from the potentially disastrous consequences of deepfakes.
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