What Is Deepfake Porn? 

August 30, 2022
Written By:
Written By:
August 30, 2022

There is a constant dichotomy within technology that is highlighted every time a new innovation comes to light. For every amazing new development that swears to better the lives of all as well as society as a whole, there is an array of dysfunctional, beyond bleak possibilities that come along with it. AI and VR have brought about fantastical improvements in many industries, optimizing anything and everything from production processes to creative endeavours and even doing wonders for sustainability. As such, it did not come as much of a surprise when VR seeped into the porn industry. However, the pairing of this technology with the porn industry has given rise to an unnervingly disturbing practice: Deepfake porn.

So what is this whole deepfake porn thing and why is it such a threat?

What is deepfake porn?

Deepfake porn is when someone’s face is superimposed onto sexually explicit content, either video or photographic, thus creating realistic pornographic depictions of someone who never engaged in said activity. Thanks to the technological advancements in AI and VR, it has become extremely simple to make deepfake porn. Some websites make it as easy as a few clicks, and voilá, deepfake porn at your service. These deranged websites might not be entirely legal, but by the time mass reportings manage to shut them down the damage is done and countless deepfake porn videos have been created.

Is deepfake porn a digital, a physical, or a phygital issue?

This question often comes up. Is deepfake porn simply a digital iteration of an issue very much prevalent in the physical, real world? Experts say it’s quite possibly both. One can’t deny that these sorts of sexual crimes are alive and well in the real world. They exist, they are a huge issue. End of story. So it’s not surprising to see them translated into the digital realm.

deepfake porn
Source: vice

However, the real worry begins when the translation to the digital world desensitizes the audience to the crime. Thus exacerbating just how far someone will go or tolerate certain deplorable activities. Such as deepfake porn. People seem to take something less seriously when it takes place in the digital verse. The same goes for bullying, manipulation, and/or abuse. And yet, these digital actions have tangible, palpable, harrowing real-life consequences.

Deepfake porn: The new tool for revenge porn

Revenge porn has, unfortunately, been a thing for quite some time. Revenge porn refers to the non-consensual creation and distribution of sexual images and videos. It is often used to take revenge on someone, for the most part, women, who make up the greater part of victims.

Unsurprisingly, this is an outstandingly gendered issue. [73% of the victims that contact the Revenge Porn Helpline are female](https://swgfl.org.uk/magazine/revenge-porn-research-2019/#:~:text=The main finding of the, who reported intimate image abuse.), and it is estimated that around 90% of deepfake victims are female too.

deepfake porn
Source: i-D vice

What can be done to solve the problematic of deepfake porn?

This seems to be a prevalent issue with technology. Meaning that the technology itself and its capabilities oftentimes advances significantly faster than the legal, political, and social infrastructure around it. As such, it takes time until protective frameworks are built around new technologies so as to prevent their misuse.

In a way, this is what happened when drones first came into play.

Moreover, it’s hard to build a legal framework around something when you can’t even predict just how far the use of the technology itself can go. And yet we must try and ensure that there is a solid legal framework in place to stop these crimes from happening. Until those who engage in creating, reproducing and distributing deepfake porn don’t face stern consequences for their actions, there is no stopping them from using deepfake porn to potentially ruin someone else’s life.

More importantly, we need to also address just how gendered this issue is, and tackle the problem at its root.

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