What Is a Deepfake?
Remember that movie, Face/Off? If you're too young, read about it here. Maybe you'll be more familiar with Elementary, where Sherlock and Watson discover software to find your doppelganger.
Twenty-something years ago, when the movie was released, not too many people would have given credence to 'stealing' someone's face being a real thing. Fast forward to the 21st century, and you'll be shocked to see it happens more often than you think. If you're a high-profile somebody or a person of interest (even little interest), your face may end up in a deepfake video. And it's a serious thing that's happening more and more online – so beware of scams.
Essentially, a deepfake is a face swap. In short, an image, audio clip, or video that's so well edited, even your mother may have a hard time believing you're not the star of the (often controversial) show. Here is an example – from 2013 blockbuster Man of Steel, featuring Amy Adams and Nicolas Cage:
Best Deepfakes Are Used For Fake News And Movies
However, the danger is that due to the advancement of technology, a deepfake is easier to create and can cause a huge grief. We will explain below how deepfakes are made and the dangers of becoming an epidemic, but before we get there we want to show you the best deepfakes so you understand the phenomenon and later the risks associated with it.
Watch the video below to see the best deepfake examples:
How Are Deepfakes Made?
Anyone with a computer and reasonable editing skills could make a deepfake, but the more advanced the software, the more believable their images or videos are likely to be. Often female actresses are seen in clips of a risqué nature, but it might not be them.
Like Face/Off, one person's face gets planted over another, except that there's no surgery involved. Admittedly, it's quite an intricate process. For those of you interested in the tech side of things, there's a wealth of information online.
If They're So Real, How Can I Tell the Difference?
Deepfakes are, in essence, scams. Just as a magician uses sleight of hand to wow his audience, a deepfake video editor uses special effects to make you believe that the person in the video is the real McCoy.
If you're not sure if you're having the wool pulled over your eyes, this article on deepfakes gives excellent pointers on what to look for, before you end up spreading fake news.
Also, practice a degree of common sense. If it's on the internet, there's a reasonable chance that it's fake.
For older deepfakes, one piece of advice we can offer is to check if the faces blink. Pre-2018 the software algorithm used usually has a person with their eyes open for the raw data, so it never learned about blinking. The more sophisticated makers of deepfakes have figured a way around this. As proof pops up that something is fake, the algorithm developers address it and improve the software.
The Danger of Deepfakes
The point is, the deepfakes are not just Hollywood creations anymore. They are easier to produce and could ruin people's lives. Extortion, blackmail, and more fraudulent practices.
Sure, it would be cool to be having a movie-themed party, and accepting the Oscar for Best Actor with your face morphed over that of Joaquin Phoenix, or star in a video as yourself with your "identical" twin.
The reality, though, is that deepfakes are becoming so tough to distinguish that they may lead to divorces, loss of employment, and even political unrest.
Statutes Governing Deepfakes
At this juncture, the only "legislation" is the Deepfakes Accountability Act, which, according to some, "would impose unenforceable rules". Still, it's reassuring to know that there are people in the world seeing the risk deepfakes pose, and being pro-active about it.
Until laws are passed that can bring dangerous deepfakers to justice, our advice is this: If you see something online that has you wondering "Can this be true?" or "What rubbish is he spewing this time?", it could be a deepfake. Don't be another sheep that clicks the 'share' button. Be wise: check your facts first.
On the other hand, the deepfakes are now used for commercial purposes. One of the first examples is a desktop application called FakeApp, launched a couple of years ago, that allows users to easily create and share videos with their faces swapped with each other. According to Wikipedia, "FakeApp has now been superseded by open-source alternatives such as Faceswap and the command line-based DeepFaceLab".
Larger companies are also starting to use deepfakes for gamification purposes.
Other Deepfake Examples
Below is a list of "professional deepfake" examples, made in the Los Angeles studios. Although these are examples that are made for commercial purposes, you can see how easier it will be in the near future to replace everyone's face. Let's check them out.
Donald Trump Deepfake (Alec Baldwin)
Stefanie Joosten Deepfake
Lion King Deepfake (created by a YouTuber)
Tom Cruise Deepfake (Bill Hader)
Jim Carrey – Jack Nicholson Deepfake
How To Report Suspicious Activity Online
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