Deepfakes – Are They Dangerous To Nonprofits?

Deepfakes and Nonprofits in Southern Africa

The word Deepfakes is a combination of the two terms “deep learning” and “fake”.

Deep learning refers to arrangements of algorithms that can learn and make intelligent decisions on their own – a form of AI (Artificial Intelligence). Simply explained, Deepfakes are falsified videos made by means of deep learning.

The great danger here is that technology is being used to make people believe something is real when it is not.

What are Deepfakes used for?

Deepfakes can be used to undermine or destroy the reputation of an individual, a community member, a nonprofit organisation or political candidate by making them appear to say or do things that never really happened. Deepfakes are a powerful new tool for those who might want to spread misinformation to influence a choice or decision for example, to manipulate the vote for a political candidate.

What are the dangers of Deepfakes?

They Undermine Trust – The more insidious impact of Deepfakes, along with other synthetic media and fake news, is to create a zero-trust society, where people cannot, or no longer bother to, distinguish truth from falsehood. And when trust has been irrevocably broken down, it is easier to raise doubts about specific events. As the technology becomes more accessible, Deepfakes could mean trouble for the courts, particularly in child custody battles and employment tribunals, where faked events could be entered as evidence.

They Pose A Personal Security Risk – Deepfakes can mimic biometric data, and can potentially trick systems that rely on face, voice, vein or gait recognition. Some apps do not protect your data. According to Forbes, TikTok has been accused of sending private biometric data used when making videos which is a security risk if hackers get their hands on your data.

It Could Ruin Reputations – Deepfakes have been known to ruin the reputation of political candidates with false information and events. Deepfake videos have the power to impact private individuals too if the video spreads to a large-scale audience.

Avails More Room For Phishing And Scams – Videos are an easy way to encourage users to click links for phishing attacks. These attacks can lead to gathering personal information and data leaks for people and nonprofit organisations if they aren’t careful.

Social Media Impact – Facebook, YouTube and other popular platforms are aware of the dangers of Deepfakes and are doing what they can to ban and remove them. However, current policies within the social media platforms often leave room for these Deepfakes videos to slip through the cracks.

How can we protect ourselves and our nonprofits from Deepfakes?

Look for the following characteristics in any video you see online:

  • Flickering movements
  • Lighting changes from one frame to the next
  • Difference in skin tones
  • Irregular or no blinking of the eyes
  • Poor lip syncing

It is getting harder than ever to distinguish between what’s real and what’s fake as the software used to create Deepfakes is increasingly sophisticated. What we know for certainty is that we can expect more Deepfakes that harass, intimidate, demean, undermine and destabilize – it is up to us as social media users to identify the dangers of misinformation and to ultimately, not trust everything we see online at first glance.

Sources: Kaspersky | Safety Centre

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