Deepfakes- Inspiring Propaganda/Fabrication of Threats

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Parvedge Haider

“Viral diseases are not as contagious as rumours go viral on media. Fake news is causing more problems for the society.”Entrepreneur and Blogger Srinivas Mishra

“In this era of fake news and paid news artificial intelligence is more and more used as a political tool to manipulate and dictate common people, through big data, biometric data, and AI analysis of online profiles and behaviors in social media and smart phones. But the days are not far when AI will also control the politicians and the media too.” – Indian author and spiritual master Amit Ray

Deepfakes refer to manipulated videos, or other digital representations produced by sophisticated artificial intelligence(AI), that yield fabricated images and sounds that appear to be real. This technology has been developed by researchers at academic institutions beginning in the 1990s, and later by amateurs in online communities. It is hard to make a good deepfake on a standard computer. Most are created on high-end desktops with powerful graphics cards or better still with computing power in the cloud. This reduces the processing time from days and weeks to hours. It also takes expertise to touch up completed videos and to reduce flicker and other visual defects. In the recent days, the capabilities of AI and machine learning are growing at an unprecedented rate. Although these technologies can be utilized in many areas for public benefit, ranging from machine translations to medical diagnostics, there are massive use transmitting fake information also. Considering enormous advantages and disadvantages, there likely to be huge investments in AI in the upcoming days and it may reach to trillions of dollars. According to a PricewaterhouseCoopers Middle East (PwC) report released at the World Government Summit in Dubai, 14 percent of economic growth in the world ($15.7 trillion) will be due to the use of AI.

Deepfakes are being used and exploited in the international and global politics now a days. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Russian president Vladimir Putin have also been created by a nonpartisan advocacy group RepresentUs[1][2].

Utilizations of Deepfakes

Deepfakes are being utilized and exploited in different forms, events and situations basing on some objectives and necessities.

  • Audio deepfakes are used as part of social engineering scams, fooling people into thinking they are receiving instructions from a trusted individual.
  • Internet featured pornography of people, often female celebrities without their consent.
  • Misrepresentation of well-known politicians in video clips.
  • Fabricated art for defaming or taking unethical credit of achievements.
  • Digitally constructed/altered humans in the films.
  • High resolution deepfake technology are being implemented into movie and television productions saving significant operational and production costs. Disney has improved their visual effects using high resolution deepfake face swapping technology.
  • Internet memes are being disseminated through the Internet, often through social media platforms and especially for humorous purposes.
  • Deepfake photographs can be used to create sockpuppets[3], non-existent persons, who are active both online and in traditional media.

Possibilities of stimulating major international incidents

Terrorist and radical extremist groups today have unprecedented access to the general public through the internet, which allows for more efficient and effective recruitment, incitement, and propaganda, as well as the purchase of weapons and illegal money transfers. According to AI firm Deeptrace appx 15,000 deepfake videos are posted online every month[4]. 96% of them are pornographic in nature and in 99% of those deepfakes are mapped faces of female celebrities on to porn stars[5].

Both state and non-state actors can use artificial intelligence-enabled deep learning to create deepfakes, which have the potential to fuel misinformation, divisions, and political instability. It has also advances in AI and 3D printing those could facilitate attacks by automating the development and deployment of weapons and weapon systems.

Carefully timed release of hoax footage, fake data leaks, and other fake data or news, has the potential to severely influence any eventualities. The ability to create these false videos becomes more accessible to the masses, it opens up all kinds of worrying possibilities from blackmailing to fraudulence. This situation is creating advantages for the criminals and other interested corners.

Spotting Deepfakes

As the technology improves, it is becoming difficult to identify whether the footage or photo is real or fake. The most popular technique is to use algorithms similar to the ones used to build the deepfake to detect them. By recognizing patterns in how Deepfakes are created the algorithm is able to pick up subtle inconsistencies. There are technologies to examine the suspected videos to identify errors such as irregular blinking patterns of lighting. There are also available techniques to use Block chain[6] to verify the source of the media. Videos will have to be verified through the ledger before they are shown on the social media platforms. It will only approve the videos of trusted sources that will reduce the spread of possibly harmful deepfake media. In general, the following points might assist to identify the Deepfakes:

  • Deepfake faces don’t blink normally
  • Poor-quality deepfakes are easier to spot
  • The lip synching might be bad, or the skin tone patchy
  • Flickering around the edges of transposed faces
  • Fine details, such as hair, Jewelry etc are particularly hard for deepfakes to render as well.

Recently, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon have taken some cautious and vigilant stand against the Deepfakes. Twitter is taking active measures to handle synthetic and manipulated media on their platform. Facebook has taken efforts to encourage the creation of deepfake detection software.

Artificial intelligence (AI) can be used for noble cause, as well as unpleasant move. The dangers of deepfakes are serious but this technology is merely a tool that has also some positive applications. Certain actions and precautions should be taken to minimize the damage done by those who use deepfakes with despicable intent. Individuals, social media platforms, and the press should have the tools readily available to quickly and easily test media they suspect to be fake.


[1] RepresentUs is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in November 2012 that advocates for state and local laws based on model legislation called the American Anti-Corruption Act.
[2] Putin Video Released Day of Debate Was Actually Deepfake Video from Anti-Trump Group,
[3] A sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception. The term, a reference to the manipulation of a simple hand puppet made from a sock, originally referred to a false identity assumed by a member of an Internet community who spoke to, or about, themselves while pretending to be another person.
[4] John Brandon, There Are Now 15,000 Deepfake Videos on Social Media. Yes, You Should Worry.
[5] What are deepfakes – and how can you spot them?
[6] Block chain is a growing list of records that are linked for using cryptograph
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