The danger of deepfakes

Nate Henneke, Staff Writer

There was once a time when things could be defined and identified based on believing what you see. But the advancement of technology and the internet in the last twenty years, has led to a new threat online. Digitally altered videos through programs have started to become common online; these videos are being referred to as deepfakes. The quality of deepfakes has improved with each year since their conception in 1997, and with people now being able to create deepfakes from their phones, the internet needs to be prepared for the potential dangers this technology presents.

The first deepfakes were the product of the Video Rewrite program created by Christoph Bregler, Michele Covell and Malcolm Slaney. This program could alter a video to make the subject appear to be saying something different from the original video. In the 26 years since Video Rewrite, deepfakes have evolved into a widely accessible tool for anyone to use. For example, a way people have used deepfakes is to scam banks out of hundreds of thousands of dollars by imitating the voice of the CEO.

Due to the ease of access paired with the potentially harmful applications, it is clear this technology needs to be restricted online, as occurrences referenced earlier will likely become more and more common. Currently, no laws prevent the creation of deepfakes and given their potential to be used in a wide array of scams and thefts; awareness surrounding deepfakes needs to be spread to every corner of the internet. While this technology is extremely impressive, it is also just as terrifying. The internet is always changing, and there have always been threats to people’s safety online, but deepfakes pose a danger that needs to be addressed. 

Deepfakes threaten the integrity of the internet, and the technology behind them will only improve with time. Before deepfakes become commonplace online, there need to be restrictions from governments regarding who can use these deepfake programs. Widespread, unregulated use of these programs will inevitably lead to chaos and harm.