How to Tackle Deepfakes and Manipulation

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Deepfakes are quickly becoming one of the biggest threats in cybersecurity, and their impacts are wide-reaching. Putting a stop to deepfakes for good requires policies and regulations. Until then, you’ll need to make efforts to combat deepfakes for your personal and professional safety.

What Are Deepfakes? 

Deepfakes refer to synthetic media generated by state-of-the-art technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. Deepfakes involve altering an individual’s likeness in a photo or video clip, generating entirely new content that appears quite realistic. 

Deepfakes can misrepresent the actions, statements or even emotions of people featured in the visuals. This leads to misinformation, identity theft, harassment and other consequences. 

As these manipulated pieces of media become increasingly sophisticated and difficult to detect, individuals need to stay vigilant and aware of the ways to tackle deepfakes online.

How Do Deepfakes Affect Businesses and Individuals? 

Deepfakes are already causing a lot of havoc, but it can be hard to imagine just how impactful a deepfake can be on your personal and professional life. Here’s how deepfakes affect everyone.

Increased Vulnerabilities

There’s nothing inherently wrong with using photos or video editors to make our content look more appealing. In fact, you can transform images in seconds using Picsart’s photo editor, which can reduce the time you spend applying filters, text and color corrections manually.

However, problems arise when we can’t tell fact from fiction. The unethical use of deepfakes has already accounted for two high-profile cases, one costing a company $35m.

In Hong Kong in January 2020, a branch manager received a call from who they thought was the director informing him about a potential acquisition. The fraudster duped their voice and sent out a bunch of emails from an address that looked like their director’s. This was a high-profile case that cost a company millions, but it wasn’t the first or last of its kind.

The technology is getting more sophisticated, and it’s likely that more fraud will happen.

Increased Opportunities

Most companies trying to combat deepfakes use automated deepfake detection, but it doesn’t always work. Not only that but once a deepfake is out there, it’s hard to stop.

59% of links shared on social media aren’t actually clicked. Most people share a news story or image without reading the article or researching its legitimacy. And even when something looks fake, people will share it anyway. Deepfakes pose a significant problem for public knowledge, and a well-timed one can crash the stock market, throw an election or cause a riot.

Deepfakes also produce a backfiring effect. If anything could potentially be fake, even something as convincing as photo or video evidence, then research becomes too exhausting. This opens up opportunities for fraudsters to take advantage of a lack of critical thinking.

Increased Datasets

When a deepfake is successful, fraudsters gain more access to data that they were previously unable to look at. Once they have this data, they can conduct more sophisticated fraud schemes, such as setting up a fake social media profile to damage a person’s reputation.

Synthetic identity fraud, when a fraudster creates a new identity for themselves, is one of the fastest-growing frauds in the world. Easy access to technology is making synthetic identity fraud even easier. Websites like ‘This Person Does Not Exist’ can AI generate a random face. People have used this site to open fake bank accounts or apply for employment.

How to Combat Deepfakes at the Source

Curbing deepfakes is no simple task, and while it’s ideal to wait for legislation, this doesn’t mean that deepfakes will completely go away. You’ll have to do the following to combat deepfakes:

Enhance Media Literacy Skills

To combat deepfakes, it’s crucial to sharpen your media literacy skills. Start by questioning the source of any image or video clip you encounter, especially if it looks suspicious. For example, if you come across an extraordinary photo that seems too good to be true, it may be a deepfake.

Foster Healthy Skepticism

Developing a discerning eye is invaluable when curbing the spread of deepfakes and their impacts. If a piece of content seems outrageous or highly controversial, scrutinize it critically before sharing it on social media platforms or believing the message in the article.

Leverage Verification Tools

Deepfake detection tools can sometimes help identify manipulated content, but relying on them 100% of the time is not a good idea. However, plenty of software and applications are designed for this purpose, such as Sensity or Adobe’s Content Authenticity Initiative. 

Stay Up-to-Date with Technology

Understanding malicious actors’ methods to create false visuals and videos is essential in tackling deepfakes effectively. Subscribe to newsletters and follow related blogs and news platforms that report on such advancements, especially regarding AI systems.

Encourage Accountability

Promoting awareness and accountability can help drive collective action against deepfakes’ dangers among various stakeholders, from big tech companies to individual users. Put pressure on policymakers to devise solutions like stricter regulations in this domain.

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