- Buttigieg, Klobuchar come together to laugh at Bloomberg Wednesday 10:29 PM
- Bernie Sanders calls Bloomberg’s wealth ‘grotesque’ to his face Wednesday 9:53 PM
- Angry Bloomberg asks debate moderators if he’s ‘chicken liver’ Wednesday 9:29 PM
- Elizabeth Warren savages everyone else’s healthcare plan Wednesday 9:07 PM
- K-Pop stans help push ‘Pooping for Kaitlin’ hashtag mocking Kent State gun girl Wednesday 8:54 PM
- Fans speculate after learning Pop Smoke posted address prior to fatal home invasion Wednesday 8:11 PM
- Jar of human tongues found in Florida has people shook Wednesday 6:39 PM
- Video of Blueface teaching Obama lookalike to dance is turning heads Wednesday 5:58 PM
- ‘No one has the range’ for this meme Wednesday 5:21 PM
- Mom confronts man who followed daughter through grocery store in viral video Wednesday 5:05 PM
- Major study linking vaping to heart attacks gets retracted Wednesday 4:36 PM
- George Zimmerman is suing Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren Wednesday 2:55 PM
- Netflix’s ‘Horse Girl’ accused of ripping off 2017 indie film Wednesday 2:52 PM
- The Genyus Network is a safe social space for stroke survivors Wednesday 2:20 PM
- MAGA hat-wearing dog finishes last in ‘Today Show’ fan vote—still named winner Wednesday 2:03 PM
Many of the deepfakes on the internet today—videos that use AI to put someone’s head on another person’s body—are easily identifiable.
They show Mr. Bean as Donald Trump, Steve Buscemi as Jennifer Lawrence, or Nicolas Cage as just about anybody. Yet these are just the deepfakes that use celebrity images. Deepfakes of non-famous people exist, and they are much harder to identify. Everyone wants to know how to stop the spread of deepfakes, or at least develop techniques to flag video and audio clips as fake, but there are no magic solutions yet.
It’s especially hard to figure out if a file is fake if it’s shared on a social site like Twitter or YouTube.
“There’s a lot of image and video authentication techniques that exist but one thing at which they all fail is at social media,” Matthew Stamm, an assistant professor at Drexel University, said at SXSW on Tuesday.
These techniques look for “really minute digital signatures” that are embedded in video files, said Stamm, and when a video file is shared on social media, it’s shrunken down and compressed. These processes are “forensically destructive and wipe out tons of forensic traces,” he added.
If a video is “pristine,” experts can find out a lot of information about them that can help determine their authenticity, Stamm said, but it’s much harder to extract information from videos found on social sites.
Stamm, who develops algorithms to figure out if images and videos are fake and how they are edited, spoke on a SXSW panel called “Easy to Fool? Journalism in the Age of Deepfakes,” which covered the recent spread of deepfakes as well as other synthetic information online. Stamm was joined by Kelly McBride, vice president at Poynter, and Paul Cheung, a director at the Knight Foundation. The panel was moderated by Jeremy Gilbert of the Washington Post.
Stamm stressed that there was not currently a “silver bullet” to combat deepfakes, while Cheung said that any techniques to combat fake audio and video will quickly become outdated as the technology rapidly develops.
Last year, Cheung said, researchers noticed that the people in deepfakes videos didn’t blink. But that changed as the technology improved. “The minute…we thought we had a mechanism for detecting a deepfake,” Cheung said, “someone had out-faked the solution.”
“We’re constantly being challenged and we constantly have to figure out new solutions,” he said.
McBride thinks that news organizations need to work together to tackle the problem of doctored videos and audio clips. Big news organizations like Associated Press and the Washington Post have more resources to research synthetic media like deepfakes, while small local newspapers do not, she said.
“Journalism itself is really going to have to ask some existential questions about creating a collective research organization,” said McBride, “that will eventually help with this problem of truth in democracy.”
Stamm, meanwhile, said that researchers are “very rapidly coming to the point to run analysis on videos and images” that can help news agencies. Stamm is also starting to look into synthetic audio, which can be detected by phase shifts in the audio file, among other techniques.
But even the best fact-checking and identifying techniques are irrelevant if people think it’s real and start to spread it on social media.
Tiffany Kelly is the Unclick editor at Daily Dot. Previously, she worked at Ars Technica and Wired. Her writing has appeared in several other print and online publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Popular Mechanics, and GQ.