Privacy Tip #252 – Deepfakes Easy to Make and Can Be Used to Microtarget Specific Groups

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It is sometimes surprising how gullible well-intentioned folks are, and how we all can be manipulated by social media. That is the basic conclusion of researchers at the University of Amsterdam’s School of Communications Research and Institute of Information Law, who recently completed a study on “deepfakes.”

Deepfakes are audio and video recordings that have been manipulated by software to appear to be real. According to the researchers, even really bad deepfakes can fool people who are unable to realize that they are fake. The researchers point out that if people can be fooled by really bad deepfakes, really good ones can be incredibly effective.

The researchers point out that the use of deepfakes in microtargeting specific groups on social media and other platforms is concerning. They came to their conclusion by creating a deepfake video of a Dutch politician that was filled with false statements. The researchers had 287 people view the video and then they asked them if they thought the video was credible. According to the researchers, “[I]n a short period of time and with relatively limited technical resources, we were able to construct a deepfake video that was unquestioningly accepted as genuine by most of the participants in our experiment.” They pointed out that there are apps that will help users make deepfakes.

The researchers stated that they are concerned about the use of deepfakes to microtarget specific groups of people on social media. If they are fake, mainstream news may point out the falsity of the claims, but the social media platform may not, and therefore, the people who are relying on social media for their information may be intentionally fed inaccurate information.

In addition, the researchers point out that deepfakes can be used for criminal behavior, including online scams, blackmail and cyberbullying, which “could lead to an undermining of trust across society as a whole, making it easier to cast doubt on any and all online information sources.”

Consider the use of deepfakes if you are accessing only social media platforms for information. Diversify your access to news, the media and social media platforms, and check the authenticity of the information from several sources before you carte blanche believe it or share it with others.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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