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Deepfake Videos Pose a Growing Threat to Democracy Ahead of General Election

Deepfake

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TL;DR

  • Deepfake videos pose a grave threat to democracy, risking trust in politics and media.
  • The sophistication of deepfake tech makes it harder to discern real from fake content.
  • MPs and the public must collaborate to protect the integrity of elections. 

In a shocking turn of events earlier this month, a video clip purportedly showing Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, verbally abusing a member of his staff went viral on social media. The clip garnered over a million views and triggered a barrage of attacks against Starmer, with some demanding his resignation and others labeling him a “disgusting bully” poised to become the next Prime Minister. However, this incident was particularly unsettling because it wasn’t a genuine recording; it was a deepfake, an AI-generated video designed to deceive viewers.

Deepfake threat to democracy

As the next general election in the UK draws nearer, experts are increasingly concerned about the potential for similar deepfake videos to emerge and disrupt the political landscape. The government has acknowledged that deepfakes represent a “severe threat to our democracy and freedoms.” Members of Parliament are now including countering deepfakes as part of their election strategy, as they worry about the impact of a fake video being released just days before or on the day of the election.

Alex Davies-Jones, the shadow minister for tech and digital economy, raises a critical question: “What happens if this comes out the day before or on the day of an election? What impact does that have?” This underscores the urgency of addressing the deepfake challenge.

The escalating sophistication of deepfakes

Deepfake technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated, making distinguishing between real and fake videos challenging. Henry Ajder, an AI expert who has advised the House of Lords and the BBC on deepfakes, noted a significant shift in the landscape. He states, “The opportunity-to-cost ratio is much different. Fake images of politicians, fake audio, fake video with synthetic lip synchronization is now accessible to anyone with a credit card and email address.”

Improving deepfake quality means it is becoming harder for journalists, politicians, and the public to identify fake content quickly. This delay in identification could lead to the spread of misinformation before it can be debunked, damaging trust in politics and media.

The erosion of truth

The rise of deepfakes poses a substantial threat to the very concept of truth. Deepfake videos can cast doubt on individual politicians and undermine trust in politics and the media as a whole. As deepfake quality improves, there is a risk that journalists and politicians may inadvertently share or legitimize fake content, further complicating the task of discerning fact from fiction.

Vulnerability of MPs

MPs, especially those with extensive public speaking records in the House of Commons, are at particularly high risk of deepfake attacks. The vast amount of audio and video footage of them can be maliciously edited to create convincing deepfakes. MPs like Ms. Davies-Jones are deeply concerned about this vulnerability and emphasize the need to protect themselves and the public from these threats.

The role of the public

The public’s role in countering deepfakes is crucial. A YouGov survey revealed that 86% of respondents support a ban on creating deepfakes without the explicit consent of those featured. The public needs to fact-check videos and images circulating during the election campaign and report any instances of abuse or misinformation.

Bipartisan concerns

The deepfake threat has raised bipartisan concerns, as evidenced by Conservative security minister Tom Tugendhat MP urging people not to share the Keir Starmer deepfake video. He emphasized that deepfakes pose a significant threat to freedom.

Government’s response

The government has taken note of the deepfake threat and is actively working to address it. Different government departments are collaborating to respond firmly to threats to the UK’s democracy. The government has also introduced the Online Safety Bill, which mandates the removal of illegal content, including deepfakes, by large social media platforms when they become aware of it.

The broader impact of deepfakes

Deepfakes are not limited to politics; they have been used for various malicious purposes, from spreading pornography to enhancing romance fraud scams. Their accessibility and ease of creation have made them a versatile tool for deception.

The proliferation of deepfake technology poses a growing threat to democracy, particularly as the UK approaches its next general election. As deepfake quality improves, distinguishing real from fake content becomes more daunting. To combat this threat, MPs, the government, and the public must work together to protect the integrity of elections and the truth itself. Failure to do so risks undermining trust in democracy and the media, with far-reaching consequences for society.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision.

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Glory Kaburu

Glory is an extremely knowledgeable journalist proficient with AI tools and research. She is passionate about AI and has authored several articles on the subject. She keeps herself abreast of the latest developments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning and writes about them regularly.

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