Deepfakes: Good or Bad?

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Deepfakes, a portmanteau of “deep learning” and “fakes,” refer to manipulated media, such as videos, photos, or audio, created using artificial intelligence (AI) to mimic the appearance and sound of a different person.

In recent years, advancements in AI technology have made it easier to create convincing deepfakes, raising concerns about their potential use in various malicious activities.

For instance, during the 2020 US presidential election, a video surfaced allegedly showing Democratic candidate Joe Biden making derogatory comments about his own party’s supporters. However, the video was later revealed to be a deepfake created by Russian operatives to sow discord among the American electorate (BBC News, 2020).

Here are more examples showing how deep fake has been used:

  • Entertainment: In 2019, a deep fake video of actor Tom Cruise was created and released, showing him performing a dance routine. The video went viral and was widely shared on social media. (Source: CNN)
  • Marketing: In 2020, a luxury fashion brand used a deep fake video to promote its products, featuring a digital version of model Kate Moss. The video was created using AI technology and was intended to showcase the brand’s latest collection. (Source: Adweek)
  • Education: In 2019, a university in the United States used deep fake technology to create a virtual lecture by a renowned scientist who had passed away. The goal was to give students access to historical knowledge and insights from prominent figures. (Source: EdSurge)
  • Journalism: In 2020, a news organization used deep fake technology to create a simulated interview with a controversial figure, allowing reporters to ask questions and get responses without the need for actual interaction. (Source: Poynter)
  • Advertising: In 2019, a car manufacturer used deep fake technology to create a commercial featuring a digitally recreated celebrity endorser. The ad was intended to appeal to a younger demographic and increase brand recognition. (Source: Ad Age)
  • Healthcare: In 2020, researchers used deep fake technology to create synthetic medical imaging data, which can be used to train AI models and improve disease diagnosis. The technology has the potential to revolutionize medical imaging analysis. (Source: Nature Medicine)
  • Finance: In 2019, a fintech startup used deep fake technology to create a digital avatar of a wealth management executive, allowing clients to interact with the avatar and receive personalized investment advice. (Source: Financial Times)
  • Social Media: In 2020, a popular social media platform introduced a feature allowing users to create deep fake videos of themselves, allowing them to virtually try on different clothes or hairstyles before purchasing. (Source: TechCrunch)
  • Virtual Reality: In 2019, a gaming company used deep fake technology to create hyperrealistic characters and environments in a virtual reality game, providing players with an immersive experience. (Source: VentureBeat)

In the book 2020s & The Future Beyond, Kelly writes about how technology would transcend, and here is one point that drives home the point.

“According to a prediction from IBM, in the 2020s, we will live in a world where knowledge doubles in size every 11 to 12 hours. ~ According to the research firm Gartner, the early 2020s will see the Internet of Things (IoT) grow to an estimated size of over 20 billion actively-connected physical devices sending, receiving, and processing information streams. ~ According to Gartner, by 2022, 70% of enterprises will experiment with immersive technologies for consumer and enterprise use, and 25% will have deployed to production”.

What is the risk of deep fakes, and how do we mitigate or plan for them? This article will explore the risks and challenges associated with deepfakes, including their potential use in misinformation, identity theft, and privacy invasion.

Risks and Challenges

  • Misinformation and Disinformation

One of the most pressing risks of deepfakes is their potential use in spreading misinformation and disinformation. Malicious actors can use deepfakes to create fake news clips, doctored videos, or altered audio recordings that appear authentic but are actually designed to deceive the audience.

For instance, In December 2022, a deep fake video of a famous actress was posted on social media, appearing to show her in a compromising situation. The video quickly went viral, and the actress’s reputation was severely damaged as a result. However, it was later discovered that the video was a deep fake created by a disgruntled ex-employee of the actress’s production company.

Similarly, deepfakes can be used to damage someone’s reputation or cause social unrest. In 2019, a group of actors in India used deepfakes to create a viral video purporting to show a Muslim man attacking a Hindu woman, leading to widespread communal violence (The New York Times, 2019).

These examples demonstrate the potential for deepfakes to undermine trust in media and institutions, erode civil discourse, and threaten global stability.

  • Identity Theft and Fraud

Another risk of deepfakes is their ability to facilitate identity theft and financial fraud. By creating convincing videos or audio recordings of high-profile individuals, scammers can trick victims into divulging sensitive information or transferring large sums of money.

For instance, in 2020, a group of criminals used deepfakes to dupe a UK energy company out of £40,000 by impersonating the CEO in a series of emails (The Guardian, 2020).

Moreover, deepfakes can be employed to blackmail celebrities, politicians, or business executives by threatening to release damaging or embarrassing footage.

In one notable case, a hacker threatened to release a deepfaked video of a famous actress engaging in explicit acts unless she paid a ransom (Forbes, 2020). These instances highlight the potential for deepfakes to exacerbate existing forms of cybercrime and extortion.

  • Privacy Invasion

Deepfakes can also pose a significant threat to individual privacy. With the ability to create highly realistic videos and audio recordings, malicious actors can secretly film or record people engaged in private activities, such as intimate moments or confidential business discussions.

These recordings can then be leaked or sold online, causing irreparable harm to the victim’s reputation and relationships.

Furthermore, deepfakes can be utilized to fabricate evidence against individuals in criminal investigations, causing them to be framed for crimes they did not commit.

  • Loss of Trust in Media and Institutions

As deepfakes become more prevalent, it may become increasingly difficult for individuals to determine what is real and what is not.

This could lead to a loss of trust in media and institutions and a general erosion of faith in the accuracy of information.

Ethical Considerations

The use of deepfakes raises various ethical considerations, particularly regarding their potential use in areas like politics, entertainment, and journalism.

For example, is it appropriate to use deepfakes to create fake news clips or manipulated videos for political gain? Should actors be allowed to use deepfakes to alter their performances in movies and TV shows?

How do we balance the creative possibilities offered by deepfakes with the need to maintain ethical standards?

Regulation and Enforcement

As with any emerging technology, there is a need for regulation and enforcement to ensure that deepfakes are used responsibly and ethically.

However, the lack of clear guidelines and legal frameworks governing the use of deepfakes makes it difficult to hold individuals and organizations accountable for their actions.

Finally, educational efforts are necessary to raise awareness about the dangers of deepfakes and how to identify and mitigate their negative effects.

This includes teaching critical thinking skills, media literacy, and the importance of verifying information before accepting it as true.


The rise of deepfakes represents both an opportunity and a challenge for society. While they offer exciting possibilities for creativity and innovation, they pose significant risks to our collective attention span, trust in media and institutions, and individual privacy.

By understanding these risks and taking steps to mitigate them, we can harness the power of deepfakes while minimizing their negative effects.

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