Only 1 in 7 People Know What a Deepfake Is. Here’s Why It Matters.

Lakshan Mahenthiran
December 19, 2023
Imagine living in a world where seeing is no longer believing. Where your favorite celebrity could be saying something scandalous, but it's not really them. Or a politician appears to be involved in a shocking act, but it’s all fabricated. Welcome to the era of deepfakes, a digital hall of mirrors where the truth is often stranger—and more elusive—than fiction.

The Astonishing Reality

Surprisingly, 71% of global respondents are in the dark about deepfakes​.

That’s about seven out of every ten people! This staggering statistic is a wake-up call about our collective digital literacy in a world increasingly dominated by sophisticated technology.

Deepfake 101: Understanding the Basics

Deepfakes, a portmanteau of “deep learning” and “fake,” are hyper-realistic digital forgeries created using artificial intelligence (AI). They’re usually videos or audios, that are altered to make it appear that someone is saying or doing something they’re actually not– and they’re becoming increasingly convincing. It’s like Photoshop on steroids, but for video and audio.

The Threat Landscape

The implications of deepfakes are far-reaching and deeply concerning. The potential for harm is vast, affecting individuals, businesses, and the very fabric of our society. Here are some ways deepfakes pose a threat to society:

Misinformation and Social Disruption

The ability to create convincing fake videos can be exploited to spread false information, leading to social and political consequences. For instance, manipulated videos can create false narratives around public figures or events, influencing public opinion and potentially inciting unrest.

“Deepfakes are the tip of the digital iceberg,” says Dr. Hany Farid, who specializes in the analysis of digital images. “They are not just a threat to our privacy and security, but to the truth itself.”

 

Identity Theft and Fraud

Deepfakes can impersonate individuals in sensitive scenarios, like faking a CEO’s speech to manipulate stock prices or creating fake evidence in legal cases. This poses a significant threat to personal and corporate security.

Erosion of Trust

In an age where deepfakes can make anything seem real, the public’s trust in digital content is eroding, leading to skepticism even towards genuine information.

Jane Lytvynenko, a senior disinformation reporter, echoes this sentiment, “Deepfakes have taken the war on information to a whole new level. The ability to distort reality at this scale is not just alarming, it’s a direct threat to our ability to discern truth from fiction.”

Navigating the Deepfake Maze

So, how can you tell if a video is a deepfake? Look for inconsistencies in lighting, unusual blinks, or odd-looking skin textures. But as the technology improves, spotting these fakes is becoming increasingly difficult.

What Can Be Done?

The battle against deepfakes is twofold: technology and awareness. Companies are developing AI to detect deepfakes, but public education is just as important. Knowing that deepfakes exist and understanding their potential impact is the first step in combating this digital deception.

 

The Bottom Line

Deepfakes are not just a fleeting internet trend. They’re a formidable challenge to our perception of reality. In a world where seeing is believing, deepfakes threaten to turn that belief on its head. As we venture further into this digital age, it’s crucial to stay informed, skeptical, and discerning. After all, in the world of deepfakes, seeing might not always be believing.

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