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The Deeply Disturbing Realities of Deepfakes

If you’re not familiar with the term “deepfake,” you certainly need to be!


deep·​fake ˈdēp-ˌfāk. plural deepfakes. : an image or recording that has been convincingly altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said. – Merriam-Webster


nancy mendelson

As Nicholas Kristof points out in his NYT Opinion piece, The Online Degradation of Women and Girls That We Meet with a Shrug , “One recent study found that 98 percent of deepfake videos online were pornographic and that 99 percent of those targeted were women or girls.”   Shocking, yet not surprising. 


Sadly, life on this planet has taught me that anything--and I mean ANYTHING-- in the wrong hands can be disastrous. Did anyone honestly think that AI, with all it’s potential for good, would not be used for nefarious purposes?


 “Alarms are blaring about artificial intelligence deepfakes that manipulate voters, like the robocall sounding like President Biden that went to New Hampshire households, or the fake video of Taylor Swift endorsing Donald Trump.


Yet there’s actually a far bigger problem with deepfakes that we haven’t paid enough attention to: Sometimes the victims are underage girls,” adds Kristof, who recounts the experience of a  14- year-old high school sophomore, Francesca Mani,  who was told by the assistant principal that some of her male classmates used a “nudify” program to generate and circulate naked images of her, as well as of other girls in her class.

 

“When I saw the boys laughing, I got so mad,” Francesca said. “After school, I came home, and I told my mom we need to do something about this,” Kristof shared. Now 15, Francesca started a website about the deepfake problem — aiheeelp.com — and began meeting state legislators and members of Congress in an effort to call attention to the issue.”  


Please do read Kristof’s entire piece…it’s an eye opener, especially in terms of accountability.  As he says, and I wholeheartedly agree, “New technologies are arriving, yes, but we needn’t bow to them. It astonishes me that society apparently believes that women and girls must accept being tormented by demeaning imagery. Instead, we should stand with victims and crack down on deepfakes that allow companies to profit from sexual degradation, humiliation and misogyny.”


The World Economic Forum offers up these four ways to future-proof against deepfakes in 2024 and beyond through:


nancy mendelson

1. Technology

2. Policy efforts

3. Public awareness 

4. Zero-trust mindset 


Although the article goes into great detail on these four countermeasures…all well and good if they get implemented and enforced. 


In the meantime, it’s women of all ages, from 14-year-old Francesca Mani to 80-year-old E. Jean Carroll, who must continue to refuse to be bullied in any space, cyber or otherwise.  And a big thank you to Nicholas Kristof for your allyship!  It makes a world of difference!

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this is insane

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