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Deepfake apps: Politicians call for action against fake videos


Artificially produced pornographic images of well-known politicians and celebrities are increasingly being distributed online. Those affected are now demanding measures against the fakes from Digital Minister Volker Wissing.

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Millions of installed apps allow creating illegal deepfake porn in seconds: »Linked to violent fantasies and threats of rape against women«

Photo: Fabian Sommer / dpa

When the organization »Hate Aid« supports those affected by hate speech, it has so far mostly been about inflammatory comments or insults.

But now a new form of digital violence also plays a role in Hate Aid's advice: so-called deepfake porn.

These are pornographic videos in which the victim's face is computer-generated and sometimes deceptively real in the moving image.

Distributing such fake videos without the consent of the people depicted may be relevant under criminal law, but relevant portals have meanwhile been used to show corresponding recordings by numerous leading German politicians.

The technology behind the deepfakes is based on so-called artificial intelligence (AI).

Nowadays it is easy to use, even for laypeople, and is increasingly delivering realistic results.

Apps installed millions of times make it possible to generate any fake videos for just a few euros – often all that is needed is a portrait photo, as a joint research by and SPIEGEL showed.

The apps can also be used to create harmless clips, such as making yourself the star of an action movie.

However, the apps hardly offer any protective mechanisms with which the applications cannot be misused for fake nude photos.

To this day, some offers even advertise that they can be used to generate porn recordings.

(Read more about the apps business model here.)

"Massive Damage"

That's why "Hate Aid" is now demanding in a petition published on Thursday that the federal government take action against the deepfake apps.

Digital Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) should ensure that app providers can no longer offer and advertise apps for creating manipulated nude photos.

In addition, it should no longer be possible to download corresponding apps without protective mechanisms from the Apple and Google app stores.

That's what it says in the petition that was previously available to SPIEGEL.

The petition is supported by the Juso chairwoman Jessica Rosenthal, Sawsan Chebil (SPD) and the chairwoman of the Women's Union Annette Widmann-Mauz and by organizations such as the White Ring.

Influencer Louisa Dellert and actress Ninia LaGrande are also among the initial signers.

Hate Aid publishes the petition together with the Federal Association of Women's Counseling Centers (bff) and the platform against non-consensual nude photos Anna Nackt.

"The damage that footage like this can do is massive," says Josephine Ballon of Hate Aid.

According to Ballon, the fake recordings are being used specifically to discredit female politicians.

"The recordings are also regularly associated with violent fantasies and threats of rape against women - be it in public comments or in direct messages," reports Ballon from the counseling sessions of her organization.

Sharing the footage is a loss of control and can be very intimidating and traumatic.

"It can take months or years to get something like this off the web," says Ballon.

Hate Aid is therefore also examining whether to take action against the platforms on which masses of artificially generated fake porn are distributed.

False nude photos were already being spread during the federal election campaign

The fact that politicians are actually being slandered with fake nude photos was last shown in the 2021 federal election campaign. A recording that was supposed to show Annalena Baerbock was viewed more than 150,000 times.

Next to the picture, which actually showed an Eastern European erotic model, was the slogan »I was young and needed the money«.

Josephine Ballon reports that celebrities, influencers and activists from Germany are also being slandered with fake sex recordings.

An actress, for example, contacted the organization that has been circulating fake hardcore porn on the Internet for around two years.

»These are deepfakes, with her face mounted in porn photographs so well that they look deceptively real.«

The pictures were distributed online, but also sent to her employer and management.

"She reported to us that the problem also affects many of her colleagues." The respective content was reported to the platforms and the search results on Google had also been removed.

Ballon fears that there is a very high number of unreported cases.

When so-called deepfakes have been discussed in recent years, it has mostly been about the danger of intentionally created false reports and disinformation on political topics and events that could be brought into the world with the help of the deceptively real recordings.

In fact, figures from the analysis company »Sensity AI«, which were picked up by the EU on the subject of deepfakes, show that around nine out of ten of all deepfakes relate to non-consensual porn recordings.

Most of the time, women are degraded.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-11-24

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