What Is Deepfake?

Deepfake (deep learning + fake) is a word you may have heard and a word you will be hearing a lot more of in the future. It is a growing trend that is sweeping the internet. 

What is deepfake? It is a form of artificial intelligence used to produce or alter video or photo content to make it look like something that did not occur is actually real. Deepfakes continue to grow and are becoming both easier to generate and harder to detect. 

The technology can be used for harmless fun like replacing people’s faces with others: Nic Cage as Amy Adams, opens a new window or Steve Buscemi as Jennifer Lawrence, opens a new window, for example. In the video below, Bill Hader morphs into Tom Cruise quite convincingly. 

There is also a dark side to deepfakes. In June 2019, a software was created called DeepNude that uses a photo of a clothed person and creates a new, naked image of the same person. The software was immediately pulled by the developer, opens a new window.

With the 2020 election approaching, opens a new window there are also concerns of an onslaught of fake videos and the impact they could have on the elections, opens a new window.

In April 2018, Jordan Peele and Jonah Peretti created a deepfake using Barack Obama as a public service announcement about the dangers of deepfakes, opens a new window. The deepfake was built using Adobe After Effects and FakeApp, an artificial intelligence program. They pasted Peele’s mouth over Obama’s, then replaced his jawline with one that moved with Peele’s mouth movements, then used FakeApp to smooth over and refine the footage.

Some fakes aren’t even deep. This video, opens a new window was manipulated to look like an assault took place.  

The concerns of deepfakes are not only people believing fake videos to be real, but also believing real videos to be fake. So how do you spot? Inspect the mouth. Tools often struggle to accurately render the teeth, tongue and mouth interior. Slow down and freeze parts of the video to watch more closely. Watch a lot of them. The more you watch, the easier it will be for you to detect. Don’t forget about context. Who is sharing this and why? Who or what is the original source? Check out this Ted talk: Fake videos of real people – and how to spot them, opens a new window.

Learn more about evaluating your news sources. Don't know if something is real or fake? Remember, our library staff can be there to help.

With the trend of deep fakes increasing in popularity, what questions or concerns do you have? Share them in the comments.