Deepfake and its Looming Threat to Public Trust

By Glaxson D'Lima
Glaxson D'Lima hails from Udupi, Karnataka. At present, he is residing in Doha-Qatar. Graduated from St Aloysius College, Mangaluru with Bachelors in Commerce, he is currently working as a Social Media Executive for a firm engaged in digital media marketing, based in Doha-Qatar.
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October 22, 2019

I was watching a movie the other day. In this movie, the villain used a unique advanced technology to conjure up special effects with lifelike illusion. He used this gimmick to create a sense of real danger and manipulate people with it. He used this technology to even combat the main hero, but eventually like in all cliched good versus evil movie, the villain was defeated, and when he breathed his last, he departed with this final line: “People need something to believe in, and these days they will believe anything.”

Come to think of it, that line quoted by the villain was not some arbitrary thought process of that character, but it was a stark reflection of one of the biggest traits seen in masses: the propensity to believe anything.

Majority of people in India tend to fall for false information and fake news distributed on WhatsApp. A simple app -which is primarily used with an objective of facilitating messaging- has gained notoriety for facilitating dissemination of false information with a purpose of inflaming fear, inciting riots and pushing noxious political propaganda. Similarly, a simple visual editing programme such as Photoshop, which is used by professional advertisers to beautify the ads, is now used by fringe elements with diabolic interest to contort real information, present false knowledge and smear the image of conscientious social activists.

If you think that Photoshop and WhatsApp are bad enough for the public trust and harmony, then you have another think coming, and it’s called Deepfake.

So, what is deepfake?

Deepfake is an AI (Artificial Intelligence)-based technology that is used to produce or alter videos that present something that has never occurred. Significantly, this technology has been used to edit the faces of celebrities onto people in highly realistic video clips. So basically, it is your fake news what’s app forward on steroids. The concept of this technology is not quite new. If you are a fan of Hollywood flicks, you may have seen some not-so-recent movies which show currently older actor’s convincingly fake younger selves in few scenes, which, in the past, involved a process with laborious makeup or a younger look alike actor, but now all it takes is a visual effects technology that is almost similar to that of deepfake. If you go to YouTube and search for videos on this topic, you will find several clips of people who look and sound like someone else, especially celebrities, as a result of the said technology used in those footage. The availability of deepfake raises a major concern: if this technology could be used for amusement, then it could ultimately be used for malicious purpose, too.

How deepfake could lead to crisis in public trust?

The problem here hinges back to people’s tendency to believe anything that suits their disposition. The danger here is that people will take such videos at face value (just like the photoshopped images, fake articles, statements distributed through what’s app). The major concern that the critics of this technology have is that as this technology spreads, the ability to produce bogus yet supposedly credible video and audio content will come within the reach of larger hands of political, nonstate actors, and individuals. As a result, the ability to advance lies using hyper-realistic, fake evidence could become a norm because of people’s gullibility in not realizing how technology could be used in this information-sharing environment to spread falsehood.

What if it becomes the next big tool of misinformation?

To start with, one should prepare, not panic. One needs to understand now that merely seeing does not and should not mean believing.

With every growing tool that facilitates misinformation, there are also entities that have risen to combat the menace of false information. There are organizations, certified by International Fact Checking Networks, which engage in checking the veracity of information that is spread online. Entities like Alt News and BoomLive have played a pivotal role in debunking a slew of fake information by supporting their findings with corroborated facts. So, when one comes across information that dubiously calls for irrational action, you do have an option to verify that information’s authenticity. And on top of it, you can always report any kind of misinformation to concerned lawful authorities.

This is an era where we are witnessing unprecedented development in technology on daily basis. We might not be able to quell every technological tool that churns out misinformation, but we can certainly make sure that we do not take every so-called fact at face value just because we found it on the internet.

Comment on this article

  • Savio D'Souza, Mumbai

    Mon, Nov 4 2019

    nice article Glaxson, good research on the topic!

    Agree [1]

  • Alwyn Pinto, Dubai

    Tue, Oct 29 2019

    nice article and a very fresh topic. Deepfake could be a very serious threatening issue unless proper measures are taken by the Government and Cyber Crime cell. Thumps up to the author for raising the awareness.

    Agree [1]

  • Vineet Rao, Mumbai/Sharjah, UAE

    Tue, Oct 29 2019

    Keep up the good work, Glaxson! this one was a totally new subject for me :) glad that I read it.

    Agree [1]

  • Deepak Crasto, Udupi/ Bahrain

    Sun, Oct 27 2019

    well written and explained. Kudos to the author for bringing up this subject and making people aware of this technology. In fact these topics should be discussed more on social platforms so that there will be awareness among more & more people.

    Agree [2]

  • Abigail Fernandes, Bhandup, Mumbai

    Sun, Oct 27 2019

    good work Glaxson, Keep going!

    Agree [1]

  • Betsy George, Brahmavar/Bhandup, Mumbai

    Sun, Oct 27 2019

    nicely written.. keep up the good work Glaxson!

    Agree [1]

  • Dinesh, Mangalore

    Sun, Oct 27 2019

    great concept. did more research on net after reading this article. I wasn't very much aware of this technology. thanks for penning down.

    Agree

  • Joseph Lobo, Bendur, Mangaluru

    Fri, Oct 25 2019

    the world is becoming more and more creepy due to rise in technology. Appreciate the author for writing on a topic which is as of now a major concern for IT field. We are less in the real world and more into imaginary world resulting into fear, depression, insecurity, distrust and all evil sources.

    Agree [3]

  • John, Falnir

    Fri, Oct 25 2019

    nice article

    Agree

  • Dan M, Dubai / Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 23 2019

    Infact most of the news are biased taking into consideration of one's own, one's business, one's family, one's state or country's interest so in that sense also it becomes a little bit of fake news. For example, On one particular incident one one news channel or people could give different views or news depending upon their knowledge, upbringing and mainly suiting to their self-interest. It is due to this Self -Interest it becomes a bit of fake news.

    Finally one need to depend only on Word of God as it is the only True News available to mankind.


    "My words last forever because they are Divine, but your words in the newspaper are thrown out in the trash tomorrow.It is better to believe in My ‘Good News’ than the devil’s ‘fake news’ that lead people into sin.”

    Agree

  • Francis Machado, Shirva/Orlem-Malad

    Wed, Oct 23 2019

    Nice Article.
    Read it, Then at once delete.
    No Forwarding.

    Agree

  • Marjorie Batan Coelho, Ottawa, Canada

    Wed, Oct 23 2019

    It's nice to see our youth interested in writing articles about science and technology.
    I read your previous articles as well and I found them very fascinating with metaphors and examples provided very accurately. Keep up the good work. Also, thanks to Daijiworld for encouraging our youth and providing them this wonderful platform.

    Agree [2]

  • Prasanna KS, Mangalore

    Wed, Oct 23 2019

    well informative article!

    Agree [2]

  • Mervin Castelino, Belman/ Dubai

    Wed, Oct 23 2019

    Very well written.
    This article must be read by people of all ages and shared to the maximum extent.

    Agree [3]

  • Denzil Menezes, Bantwal/Kuwait City

    Wed, Oct 23 2019

    Eye opener article for the masses who are into social networking whole day. These days, even highly educated people fall in trap of those people who spread false propaganda.
    Good work, Glaxson

    Agree [2]

  • Janet D'Souza, Nejar/Mumbai

    Wed, Oct 23 2019

    good source of information. keep up the good work!

    Agree [1]


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