Experts warn ‘deepfakes’ videos of politicians could be manipulated


Top tech firms have been cracking down on savvy internet users who continue to create fake, AI-assisted porn of many of Hollywood’s leading ladies.   

But now it seems the videos, also known as ‘deepfakes,’ have taken an even darker turn. 

‘Deepfakes’ hobbyists have begun using the technology to create digitally-altered videos of world leaders, including President Donald Trump, Russian president Vladimir Putin, former president Barack Obama and former first lady and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. 

Experts warn the videos could be realistic enough to manipulate future elections and global political as soon as 2020.


The technology has been used in research labs for several years now, but has been democratized for public use only recently, particularly through software called ‘FakeApp.’ 

A Reddit user launched FakeApp, which is an easy-to-use app that can be directly downloaded to your desktop computer. 

It doesn’t require any knowledge of coding and can create detailed videos of almost any subject that appear convincingly real. 

So far, starlets Emma Watson, Daisy Ridley, Katy Perry and Cara Delevingne have all shown up in doctored videos on Reddit.

Pornhub, Twitter and Reddit have all taken steps to ban the content from being posted on their platforms, saying it falls under the category of non-consensual porn. 

Reddit and Facebook are now figuring out ways to regulate the doctored videos of politicians and other world leaders, according to CBS News. 

The move comes as experts and legislators say the videos have the potential for far more dubious consequences than just a few laughs on the internet.   

‘The idea that someone could put another person’s face on an individual’s body, that would be like a homerun for anyone who wants to interfere in a political process,’ Virginia senator Mark Warner, who has led a crackdown on political ads on social media platforms, told CBS. 

‘This is now going to be the new reality, surely by 2020, but potentially as early as this year,’ he added. 

Many of the videos, published on YouTube by user ‘derpfakes,’ are being closely watched by experts like Hany Farid, a computer science professor who specializes in digital forensics and image analysis at Dartmouth College.  

Farid said he’s most concerned about software that can change facial expressions in real-time. 

‘We are absolutely not ready for this,’ Farid told CBS. ‘…On so many different levels, we’re not ready for it.’ 

Prior to derpfakes, the technology was being explored as early as 2015 by researchers from Stanford, the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. 

The team created software called Face2Face, which can make one person’s face mimic the facial expressions of another in real-time video. 

It uses a simple computer webcam to track the facial expressions of both sources and generate digital, 3D faces in real-time.  

The software is currently not publicly available.  

Another program that’s created by Adobe, called VoCo, is often referred to as the ‘Photoshop-for-voice.’

It lets users easily edit audio recordings to say things the original speaker never said.

The technology was used to create a doctored, albeit convincing, video of Obama giving a speech. 

‘Right out of the gate, that’s terrifying,’ Farid told CBS. 

‘…Now I can create the president of the United States saying just about anything,’ he noted. 

Farid, who runs a lab that tries to quickly identify fake videos, said he worries that the tools have the potential become ‘weaponized,’ adding that it’s likely to exacerbate our current issues with fake news.   

Warner said he wants to work with tech companies to rein in fake news and fake videos.            



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