How deepfakes undermine truth and threaten democracy | Danielle Citron


[This talk contains mature content] Rana Ayyub is a journalist in India whose work has exposed
government corruption and human rights violations. And over the years, she’s gotten used to vitriol
and controversy around her work. But none of it could have prepared her
for what she faced in April 2018. She was sitting in a café with a friend
when she first saw it: a two-minute, 20-second video
of her engaged in a sex act. And she couldn’t believe her eyes. She had never made a sex video. But unfortunately, thousands
upon thousands of people would believe it was her. I interviewed Ms. Ayyub
about three months ago, in connection with my book
on sexual privacy. I’m a law professor, lawyer
and civil rights advocate. So it’s incredibly frustrating
knowing that right now, law could do very little to help her. And as we talked, she explained that she should have seen
the fake sex video coming. She said, “After all, sex is so often used
to demean and to shame women, especially minority women, and especially minority women
who dare to challenge powerful men,” as she had in her work. The fake sex video went viral in 48 hours. All of her online accounts were flooded
with screenshots of the video, with graphic rape and death threats and with slurs about her Muslim faith. Online posts suggested that
she was “available” for sex. And she was doxed, which means that her home address
and her cell phone number were spread across the internet. The video was shared
more than 40,000 times. Now, when someone is targeted
with this kind of cybermob attack, the harm is profound. Rana Ayyub’s life was turned upside down. For weeks, she could hardly eat or speak. She stopped writing and closed
all of her social media accounts, which is, you know, a tough thing to do
when you’re a journalist. And she was afraid to go outside
her family’s home. What if the posters
made good on their threats? The UN Council on Human Rights
confirmed that she wasn’t being crazy. It issued a public statement saying
that they were worried about her safety. What Rana Ayyub faced was a deepfake: machine-learning technology that manipulates or fabricates
audio and video recordings to show people doing and saying things that they never did or said. Deepfakes appear authentic
and realistic, but they’re not; they’re total falsehoods. Although the technology
is still developing in its sophistication, it is widely available. Now, the most recent attention
to deepfakes arose, as so many things do online, with pornography. In early 2018, someone posted a tool on Reddit to allow users to insert faces
into porn videos. And what followed was a cascade
of fake porn videos featuring people’s favorite
female celebrities. And today, you can go on YouTube
and pull up countless tutorials with step-by-step instructions on how to make a deepfake
on your desktop application. And soon we may be even able
to make them on our cell phones. Now, it’s the interaction
of some of our most basic human frailties and network tools that can turn deepfakes into weapons. So let me explain. As human beings, we have
a visceral reaction to audio and video. We believe they’re true, on the notion that
of course you can believe what your eyes and ears are telling you. And it’s that mechanism that might undermine our shared
sense of reality. Although we believe deepfakes
to be true, they’re not. And we’re attracted
to the salacious, the provocative. We tend to believe
and to share information that’s negative and novel. And researchers have found that online
hoaxes spread 10 times faster than accurate stories. Now, we’re also drawn to information that aligns with our viewpoints. Psychologists call that tendency
“confirmation bias.” And social media platforms
supercharge that tendency, by allowing us to instantly
and widely share information that accords with our viewpoints. Now, deepfakes have the potential to cause
grave individual and societal harm. So, imagine a deepfake that shows American soldiers
in Afganistan burning a Koran. You can imagine that that deepfake
would provoke violence against those soldiers. And what if the very next day there’s another deepfake that drops, that shows a well-known imam
based in London praising the attack on those soldiers? We might see violence and civil unrest, not only in Afganistan
and the United Kingdom, but across the globe. And you might say to me, “Come on, Danielle, that’s far-fetched.” But it’s not. We’ve seen falsehoods spread on WhatsApp and other
online message services lead to violence
against ethnic minorities. And that was just text — imagine if it were video. Now, deepfakes have the potential
to corrode the trust that we have in democratic institutions. So, imagine the night before an election. There’s a deepfake showing
one of the major party candidates gravely sick. The deepfake could tip the election and shake our sense
that elections are legitimate. Imagine if the night before
an initial public offering of a major global bank, there was a deepfake
showing the bank’s CEO drunkenly spouting conspiracy theories. The deepfake could tank the IPO, and worse, shake our sense
that financial markets are stable. So deepfakes can exploit and magnify
the deep distrust that we already have in politicians, business leaders
and other influential leaders. They find an audience
primed to believe them. And the pursuit of truth
is on the line as well. Technologists expect
that with advances in AI, soon it may be difficult if not impossible to tell the difference between
a real video and a fake one. So how can the truth emerge
in a deepfake-ridden marketplace of ideas? Will we just proceed along
the path of least resistance and believe what we want to believe, truth be damned? And not only might we believe the fakery, we might start disbelieving the truth. We’ve already seen people invoke
the phenomenon of deepfakes to cast doubt on real evidence
of their wrongdoing. We’ve heard politicians say of audio
of their disturbing comments, “Come on, that’s fake news. You can’t believe what your eyes
and ears are telling you.” And it’s that risk that professor Robert Chesney and I
call the “liar’s dividend”: the risk that liars will invoke deepfakes to escape accountability
for their wrongdoing. So we’ve got our work cut out for us,
there’s no doubt about it. And we’re going to need
a proactive solution from tech companies, from lawmakers, law enforcers and the media. And we’re going to need
a healthy dose of societal resilience. So now, we’re right now engaged
in a very public conversation about the responsibility
of tech companies. And my advice to social media platforms has been to change their terms of service
and community guidelines to ban deepfakes that cause harm. That determination,
that’s going to require human judgment, and it’s expensive. But we need human beings to look at the content
and context of a deepfake to figure out if it is
a harmful impersonation or instead, if it’s valuable
satire, art or education. So now, what about the law? Law is our educator. It teaches us about
what’s harmful and what’s wrong. And it shapes behavior it deters
by punishing perpetrators and securing remedies for victims. Right now, law is not up to
the challenge of deepfakes. Across the globe, we lack well-tailored laws that would be designed to tackle
digital impersonations that invade sexual privacy, that damage reputations and that cause emotional distress. What happened to Rana Ayyub
is increasingly commonplace. Yet, when she went
to law enforcement in Delhi, she was told nothing could be done. And the sad truth is
that the same would be true in the United States and in Europe. So we have a legal vacuum
that needs to be filled. My colleague Dr. Mary Anne Franks and I
are working with US lawmakers to devise legislation that would ban
harmful digital impersonations that are tantamount to identity theft. And we’ve seen similar moves in Iceland, the UK and Australia. But of course, that’s just a small piece
of the regulatory puzzle. Now, I know law is not a cure-all. Right? It’s a blunt instrument. And we’ve got to use it wisely. It also has some practical impediments. You can’t leverage law against people
you can’t identify and find. And if a perpetrator lives
outside the country where a victim lives, then you may not be able to insist that the perpetrator
come into local courts to face justice. And so we’re going to need
a coordinated international response. Education has to be part
of our response as well. Law enforcers are not
going to enforce laws they don’t know about and proffer problems
they don’t understand. In my research on cyberstalking, I found that law enforcement
lacked the training to understand the laws available to them and the problem of online abuse. And so often they told victims, “Just turn your computer off.
Ignore it. It’ll go away.” And we saw that in Rana Ayyub’s case. She was told, “Come on,
you’re making such a big deal about this. It’s boys being boys.” And so we need to pair new legislation
with efforts at training. And education has to be aimed
on the media as well. Journalists need educating
about the phenomenon of deepfakes so they don’t amplify and spread them. And this is the part
where we’re all involved. Each and every one of us needs educating. We click, we share, we like,
and we don’t even think about it. We need to do better. We need far better radar for fakery. So as we’re working
through these solutions, there’s going to be
a lot of suffering to go around. Rana Ayyub is still wrestling
with the fallout. She still doesn’t feel free
to express herself on- and offline. And as she told me, she still feels like there are thousands
of eyes on her naked body, even though, intellectually,
she knows it wasn’t her body. And she has frequent panic attacks, especially when someone she doesn’t know
tries to take her picture. “What if they’re going to make
another deepfake?” she thinks to herself. And so for the sake of
individuals like Rana Ayyub and the sake of our democracy, we need to do something right now. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “How deepfakes undermine truth and threaten democracy | Danielle Citron”

  1. 7:36 — The risk of disbelieving the truth — "what we call the Liar's Dividend" — The risk that liars will invoke "that was a deepfake" to escape accountability for their wrongdoing.

  2. 10:42 — The law has some practical impediments — 10:50 — "If a perpetrator (of deepfakes) lives outside of the country where the vicitim lives, then you may not be able to insist that the perpetrator come in to local courts to face justice. So we're going to need a coordinated international response". There are personal responsibilities as well to surface up deepfakes that the law is not able to determine.

    This is a really tough nut to crack — Cooperation from social media companies to spend the money to use human knowledge and context to help determine harmful deepfakes, and commitment to remove them from their platforms — International law agreements and cooperation — Education of citizens to learn and recognize the "liar's dividend" ability of politicians and others to pollute the truth by branding authentic sound & video as fake news or a deep fake — Cooperation of citizens to help surface deepfakes — New legislation — Better training of law enforcement. I appreciate this well-presented presentation of both the escalating threat, injury and harm deepfakes can foist upon innocent victims — and the array of tools needed to control deepfakes that can cause deep personal harm.

  3. 11:53 — "Education & training must extend to the media as well — so journalists don't amplify and spread harm-producing deepfakes"

  4. This call for action is pointless without a single idea how such legislation should work. Growing a thicker skin and ignoring gullible idiots is not an option for neurotic women so let's restrict access to all hardware and software capable of producing deep fakes, also jail all pranksters and delegalize satire altogether -__-

  5. I seen AI of realistic looking individual that don't even exist, and it's scary? For someone with Warp mind?

  6. Add certificates to videos so that sources can be traced and video integrity can be verified. Should make all untraceable videos untrustworthy by default and traceable ones could get the source into trouble if it turns out to be a fake.

  7. Here's a question: assume we reach a point where video/audio recordings are no longer considered to be 100% verifiable evidence of wrongdoing because of the spread of deepfakes and voice generators. What do we then consider to be the gold standard of undoubtable proof?

    I'm not saying this as a negative or as a "we must stick with video/audio." I'm asking this because I don't know what evidence cannot be forged in the information age, especially after the news media, images, and now videos are no longer 90% or more reliable.

  8. Should we ban Photoshop too? You can insert anybody into any incriminating position or place. Perhaps we should ban Audio Processing Technologies that allow you to take someone and make them say anything you want? Maybe we should even ban basic Text Editors, since you can change any wording in a Document to say anything you want it to.

    I think we need to slow down, and think about this rationally. Perhaps we shouldn't be putting so much of our Personal Data online? Or at the very least be careful about what we are putting out there. Maybe we shouldn't be posting hundreds of Pictures of ourselves online for people to have and be able to process intricate DeepFakes with (particularly our face through Selfies, the main part DeepFakes need). And if you're a public figure like a News Broadcaster you've already come to accept that that is part of the Job and comes with a nice Salary.

    Maybe instead of banning innovative technology and just allowing our enemies to use it against us we should accept that not everything we see and hear is completely real, and we should return to the more sensible and diligent form of Journalism from times past, before we all decided to toss it aside to get never ending streams of hot takes on Twitter.

    Maybe we should be holding ourselves to a higher standard, instead of expecting the Government to think for us? Perhaps we should be teaching people how to be more responsible Online? Maybe we need to be teaching people how to avoid being Doxxed?

    Most Mainstream Websites already HAVE banned DeepFakes, mind you. Reddit, Twitter, Gfycat, Discord, Pornhub, even Google added "involuntary synthetic pornographic imagery" to its ban list.

    Let's think about this rationally before we start handing more power over to the Government. Don't let these people place fear into your hearts. Be smart about your interactions online, learn to keep an open mind until you hear it from a trusted source, and protect your privacy, because once it's gone it's gone.

  9. The answer is hard but simple: the deep fakes, fake news and so, work beacuse PEOPLE is idiot and tends to trust on what they see and hear and not what the think…

    Remedy? There are two:

    a) a complete cynic Society that doesn't believe in anything much less something is in the news/internet/mobiles…
    b) an educated Society than BEFORE making judgments on what is being spread, think and never ever make rush empty conclusions …

    I know, this Lawyer thinks the Law could save is… stop that idea, we Human make the Law and the Trap, so that path will not work… Better tools? nooo… the deep fake have advantages of years… just changing the mind of the people will stop not just deep fakes, but any other fakes… and that is perhaps politicians DON'T want to go for that path… 😉

  10. Thank you for all the great responses to my comment. Young lady don’t worry about me I was going to the hospital any way after I wrote comment ,but only because I work there I am not schizophrenic I am OK. The world, however is in deep Doo Doo unless the good guys fix it pretty soon. Trump and many around him would give their last breath.

  11. Great talk however, she keeps calling that lady Rhana a minority but that Indian women is most definitely not a minority in a country of 1 billion people!

  12. Minority Women? Indian women are not a minority, there's fucking millions of them. What she really meant was a non white woman but is scared to just come out with it.

    If fake stories spread 10 times faster, then obviously they are very very easy to identify.

    Our trust in democratic institutions? Who's trust? The UK electorates trust? Why would the electorate trust democratic institutions when we are into the 4th year of brexit?

    Stupid woman wants to legislate to protect feelings what a moron, lol 😂😂😂

  13. You know what has and still does undermine truth and democracy?

    The public who lets corrupt individuals in positions of power and influence do as they please and with their actions affect us all.

    Like George Carlin said "what if it's not the politicians that suck? What if it's the public that sucks, yeah, maybe the people suck, how about that!"

  14. Minute thirty in and she claims gender and minority status makes it special… ok then. I'm neither so this doesn't apply to me I guess.

    This endless race and gender framing is the quickest way to lose an audience.

    Shame… maybe she had a point but I prefer not to listen to bigots once they make it known.

  15. I don't think Deepfakes are quite there yet and can be spotted. However, a few years time and it'll be hard to tell. The very fact that people are addressing the dangers is a good thing though, becasue it means that something will be done about it. Whether that something is a publicly made deepfake detector or some sort of other method is unclear, but it would be worse if it fell into the wrong hands and the public had no idea what it was.

  16. Deepfake is the logical consequence of the "make believe" world in which we live….
    Due to a long process of indoctrination, we loose our critical thinking. Politics patronise this because one wants to sell you crap and make you believe it's gold…
    Propaganda and technology are bringing us closer to a fake world everyday.

  17. a) erstmal gekleckert 😂
    b) If the most specialized organizations can’t get it right, there is no need to worry 🤷‍♂️

  18. Yep, edge cases and fearmongering. Deepfaking is primarly used to put Keanu Reeves in Sesam Street songs and they are hilarious.

  19. Deepfake: "it's not me officer, honest, it's my avatar". The problem is the technology will be used to incriminate and to also dissimulate. As information technology evolves it becomes one global gaslighting exercise. For the good people of the world I only see one solution, to turn our backs on all this bs…

  20. I've been worried about this for a while. Fake News 2.0. People lack the critical thinking skills now. Deep fakes will make it so much worse.

  21. Hey, Danielle you are talking on TED platform. You don't need deepfake to undermine truth and threaten democracy, TED is pretty good at that as is.

  22. AI can confront human perception very easily. Technology is evolving but the majority of ppl are still…………. not even trying to…….

  23. All i know is, is that we are all weak, lead by weak cowards towards insanity and chaos.

  24. What happened was bad but Rana ayyub is anti Indian Islamist nothing more. Stop glorifying Muslims. You know what real minorities are?
    Ask parsis or jains of India

  25. They should create a easy tool that can detect deep fakes just like there are programs which can detect photoshopped pictures

  26. There’s theories floating around that the wave of deepfakes are out to accustom the public to not believing them so when real videos do come out of politicians committing crimes they can blame deep fake

  27. I'm using deepfake and am a deepfake creator. You can deepfake video but you can't deepfake audio. Also, I don't know why you are obsessed with minorities. I'm always deepfaking white heterosexual people.
    And one of the most famous deepfake gif is the Trump tackle attack. that's not what I call a minority.

  28. We live in a world where we can't trust the food we eat the water we drink or the air we breathe for fear these things aren't as they appear. Welcome to the new age of human existence for however long it lasts.

  29. The US PBS News Hour recently did a segment on this. It is already happening. It was in response to Trump supporters doing a fake of Nancy Pelosi making a speech looking drunk or something. Mz Citron provides plent of other examples and some implications of them. But it is good that she points out there is a place for this as legit satire.

  30. Outlawing the malicious use of this technology is going to be incredibly hard.
    Once a fake video is out there, you can't take it off the internet. You can't undo the damage, even if you arrest the person who did it.
    And what if you hire people from other countries to make the videos for you? What if they're as anonymous as can be? Are we gonna have to ban all internet anonymity, worldwide?
    Maybe that'll be the only solution. But is that even possible? And if it is, it'll cause many new problems!
    This is gonna get very messy.

  31. If the development of law cannot catch up with the development of technology, a lot of problems like deepfakes are bound to happen.It's not just the law that we need to improve,we need to think more,otherwise we are likely to face problems like "deepleg","deephand"so on.

  32. Giving talks in TED talks about deepfakes? Good luck to you 🤣🤣 lol. Fortunately you're also a bigot so no harms would be done 😉

  33. Whenever you see a deepfake involving you, share it yourself. Shutting down all your social media just adds fuel to the fire, but sharing it as a curiosity will prove your innocence.
    Although I'm aware this won't work in *countries with certain ideological majorities*, but that's a problem in the communities, not technology.

  34. Once again, technology has developed faster than the awareness and regulation for it, causing severe damage in the process. As she said, the solution will have to include regulation, education and international cooperation in order to succeed. I think the first step to solving all recent technology-related issues is to educate the people in power. The majority of politicians around the world are on the older side and shamefully technology and media illiterate.

  35. But isnt this particular case easy?
    Just strip the victim and identify each part of the body.
    Surely the perp wouldn't know what her body looked like.

  36. Found the deepfake! (TED) – "This is extremely dangerous to our democracy" – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWLjYJ4BzvI
    The left is just as bad as the right in all of this propaganda. However, it's not the right that's banning people on its platforms (twatter, fakebook, themtube, etc.) & threatening physical violence (klantifa, blm) or using international banking systems (mastercard) to force its agenda on the public, the left is.

  37. This makes me question every TEDx talk I’ve watched now as they all seem to be pushing the NWO, transhumanism, Agenda 21, A.I and other sci fi themes that will enslave, silence, conform and control humanity and because we have all been brainwashed already into thinking science is beneficial for evolution then who will stop these mad geniuses and their egos from destroying everything??? TEDx Talks = Deep Fake information .

  38. I see a lot of comments saying "well, easy, just don't beliee anything you see". But isn't that equally dangerous to democracy ? Everyone would be able to get away with anything by calling it fake news, which already happens but can only made worse by a "I can't trust nothing" mentality

  39. Its RIDICULOUS that "Ted talks" (a hub of leftist think tanks and leftist propaganda) is going to teach us what's true and what's not. Absolutely ridiculous.

    Has Ted Talks ever had a KNOWN conservative on? Of course not. But sure, you militate for aLL ThE pEoPle! What a load of crap. People, wake up. This is the propaganda right here and the fact that they almost NEVER have people with different idealogical opinions/beliefs on (or ANY dissenting opinions with the Democratic 'narrative); IS BLATANT PROOF OF THAT.

    You people are brainwashed.

  40. TL;DR: If the metadata aint right, the data aint right.

    With the way law enforcement and law makers are behaving now, it could be a dangerous path to have those kind of people try to be proactive against deep fakes. Trust is already broken when it was noted that the NSA gathers every piece of data/content you generate so who knows how they can leverage deep fakes to their own advantage (ie. create incriminating content to convict innocent defendants in a case just to make an example of them). Data is near impossible to control and I don't think you can ever really counter deep fakes. The only thing we can probably control is the metadata (ie. device details, timestamp of recorded video, timestamp of edited video – if edited at all) of that data.

    The scariest thing that could happen is that AI for deep fakes eventually learn to create real videos from photos thus creating authentic metadata (or very similar to) which will need to be forensically analysed and manually scrutinized with the subject in question (ie. whereabouts of subject at the time of recording).

  41. well, yes, it sounds pretty nasty, but it will quickly lose its power to hurt. People will adjust to the fact that this sort of stunt is possible and will simply dismiss them as more "fake news".

  42. You can at the moment spot a deep fake if you look carefully at things such as the mouth of the person.
    It's an area that doesn't seem to always look right when a person speaks.
    However, over time of course, this will improve.

    On the flip side, there are people out there creating deep learning A.I that is able to spot deep fakes too so hopefully that will be of help when trying to determine if something is real or not!

  43. Houdini and many talented illusionist before him were masters of this art well before the advent of social media. While the method of conveying the illusion may change the skills of individuals to present these illusory concepts will always be with us.

  44. I am concerned for my Muslim sisters, please cover your face and body properly when you go outside, this world is not a safe place to roam around freely, this world is filled with people who like to abuse woman

  45. All forms of lies, slander and false "news" undermine truth and threaten democracy. This is why honesty and integrity matter.

  46. deepfakes are ok as long as only "responsible" leaders have them, but if normal people learn about it….buhhhh. This is the start to reason for laws that only a minority have the right on the internet to distribute information.

  47. Deepfakes will make matters worse, yet we are already living under lies in a false reality mainly created by the mainstream media.
    Years ago, when I tried to warn people that this technology already exists and was being improved upon constantly, they laughed.

    For anyone interested in viewing a decent movie related to this subject, I would recommend the movie Wag The Dog.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=steA_PZPkc8

  48. Revelation 20:10 DEVIL=DECEIVER,TORMENT DAY AND NIGHT=FOREVER

    And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

    John 8:44 PEOPLE WHO LIE TAKE THE VERY NATURE OF devil,satan,ancient serpent,the accuser,the father of all liars

    You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

  49. THE DECEIVER OF THE WHOLE WORLD

    Revelation 12:9
    And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and satan,the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

  50. From what she said about this woman who I have never heard of, imagine somebody of Great standing in the world getting a deep fake that makes them look like a Paul Pot, Stalin, And Hitler. What if it has a deep impact across the planet. I never imagined that our great technological knowledge could be perverted in such a manner. Just wait and see what some sociopath vomits up and we just might believe it to be true.

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