The Depths of Perception: The Danger of Deep Fakes

Deep fakes are digitally altered images or videos that enable viewers to see someone doing something they never did.  

Deep fake celebrity videos have especially been made viral over the years.

For example, someone made a Wonder Woman deep fake, which was used for entertainment purposes. The face of Lynda Carter, who starred as Diana Prince in the 1970s Wonder Woman series, was edited on the new Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot, in clips of the 2017 Wonder Woman movie. The results are astonishing and difficult to unsee.

A scarier example is the deepfake of former President Barack Obama. Jordan Peele, an actor and comedian, is known for his spot-on impression of Obama. With the use of AI technology, it appears that Obama is making a Public Service Announcement, but it is really Peele’s imitation.

The Obama deepfake said, “We’re entering an era in which our enemies can make anyone say anything at any point in time.”

Even though the video was meant to be comedic, it proves that people could digitally alter videos of world leaders and politicians to make announcements people believe are real.

Imagine if someone made a deepfake of President Biden announcing a new policy or declaring war. Even though it would eventually be revealed as fake, it would cause panic and mania.

 Deepfakes could be used for sinister and criminal purposes like blackmail, to ruin one’s reputation or to spread false information.

Deepfake technology has advanced, so it is increasingly difficult to differentiate between what is real or fake. According to Samantha Lee from Insider, “Using algorithms to identify deepfakes could also be difficult considering those who are creating such videos will likely find ways to circumvent such detection methods.”

The dangers of deep fake videos are becoming terrifyingly real.

For example, this year, in Pennsylvania, a cheerleader’s mom, Raffaela Spone, created deep fake images and videos to get the girls from her daughters’ cheer team kicked off the squad.

 According to The Philadelphia Inquirer: “Spone, 50, allegedly sent the manipulated photos and video to at least three of her daughter’s teammates and their coaches on the cheerleading team, the Victory Vipers, in Chalfont.”

The photos and videos depicted the girls smoking, drinking, and nude. Out of fear of being kicked off the team, one of the girls, who was sent fake photos of herself, went to the local police. They identified the clips as deep fakes.

The police traced the phone number of the harasser to Spone’s house. They searched her phone and found the threatening messages she was sending the girls.

“Spone was arrested on March 4 and is charged with three counts of cyber harassment of a child and three counts of harassment, according to Hilltown Township police,” stated Marlene Lenthang from ABC News.

The coaches of the Victory Vipers, Mark McTague and Kelly Cramer said, “Victory Vipers has always promoted a family environment and we are sorry for all individuals involved. We have very well-established policies, and a very strict anti-bullying policy in our program.”

This situation shows people are being negatively affected by deep fakes. As technology keeps progressing, the reality of a deepfake world will pose grim and uneasy circumstances.

There seems no way to stop or decline the increase of deepfakes. According to Insider, “Imposing legislation to crack down on deepfakes in a way that doesn’t infringe on free speech or impact public discourse could be challenging, even if such rules do provide exceptions for entertainment content.”

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