What is a deepfake video?

In a world where false information is becoming more prevalent, deepfake videos have become a serious problem. These manipulated recordings pose a risk to people, but also to security worldwide.

Whenever there is a technological advance for humanity, there are people dedicated to using it to do evil. We have the proof in the invention of dynamite by Alfred Nobel in 1867. This creation was intended to give miners more security, by offering them a safer and easier to control explosive. 

However, it would not be long before this tool began to be used in criminal acts or in wars, which caused the inventor of this explosive deep sorrow. That is why, when Nobel passed away, he created the Nobel Prizes in his will, with which to recognize those people dedicated to advancing society. Among them was the Nobel Peace Prize, dedicated to the person who achieved the greatest contribution to brotherhood between countries.

Well, just as it happened with dynamite, a revolution at the time, something similar is happening with the Internet today. Despite having in our hands the greatest source of information that man has ever known, there are groups of people with shady interests dedicated to spreading false information, known as fake news.

The appearance of fake news

Although they seem like something from our days, the truth is that the first fake news is as old as the great fire in Rome, theoretically organized by Nero. Later, false news would arrive about the riches of the New World, after the discovery of America. And nowadays, fake news is the order of the day, becoming a basic tool for organized groups and other entities with few decent objectives.

Just as indecent are the reasons that lead certain websites to publish manipulated erotic or pornographic photos of famous people, mainly Hollywood actresses, but also well-known athletes, singers and other professionals. This content is almost as old as the internet itself, and has traditionally been of poor quality. In fact, the most used technique is to use a photo editing tool , “cut” the person’s face and “paste” it on a risqué photo, trying to simulate that the person who appears is the famous fashion.

The arrival of deepfakes

Although it is obvious that this content is not ethical or legal, the truth is that, after the initial surprise, a second look at the image is enough to verify that the photo is manipulated. However, the arrival of new technologies , such as Fake App, threatens to considerably aggravate this problem. We’re talking about a program that doesn’t even require a desktop computer to work, but can be used directly from your mobile and allows you to create fake videos in a few minutes.

Compared to the static design of the image, these applications allow replacing the face of one person with another, using Machine Learning for this purpose . This technology processes the video frame by frame and fits it with the images that we have uploaded of the person’s face. In them, the mouth, eyes, nose and other features of the person are identified, so that the adjustment of the face of the person supplanted on the original video is increasingly efficient.

Once the montage is complete, shot by shot, the application takes care of creating a video with the same characteristics as the original, but with the face of the target person. The greater the amount of content of the person to impersonate that is provided to the application, the better the result of the video, which also “learns” from itself to improve the result.

Therefore, we are no longer talking about a photo edited with Photoshop, in which the face does not even glue on the body, but we are talking about moving videos in which the person’s face fits and even moves as expected. according to the activity that happens in the video. 

The risks of deepfakes

At this point, it is clear that this technology poses a serious risk in all kinds of areas. We have already mentioned one of them, regarding the sexual nature of many of the fake videos created with this technology. A simple search on the net brings us back numerous pornographic portals specialized in the creation of this type of videos.

This has led various countries to outlaw this type of content and condemn videos created using deepfake technology of pornographic content or the so-called revenge porn. The problem is that, on many occasions, it is difficult to find the origin of the video, so it is just as difficult to condemn its author.

However, there is an even greater risk in deepfakes, which can affect the national security of many countries. Let’s think of a video in which the president of one country threatens another with an invasion or asks to “eliminate all blacks” or “that women be assaulted”. 

Thanks to speech synthesis technologies and the deepfake system, it is possible to make anyone say what we want, which can be a serious problem for the affected countries. Therefore, the risk of deepfake is more than considerable. Above all, given the lack of critical spirit of many people who receive this content, who swallow everything they see.

How to spot a deepfake

Compared to those poorly modified photos of yesteryear, the Machine Learning technology used in deepfakes makes the process of detecting these contents very difficult. It is true that, if you have good eyesight, it is possible that while viewing the video you perceive that the person speaking maintains an unnatural attitude or that their expression does not fit what would be expected according to what they say. 

Other elements that help us in this task are to verify the synchronization of the lips, the presence of an irregular skin tone or facial and hair movements that do not quite fit what would be real. A detective job that many companies are already trying to automate, through apps designed to verify whether a video is real or not. However, these are still at an early stage of development.

In the meantime, the only option left to us is to verify if what that character says is collected in another medium, verify the source from which that video comes and, above all, not to believe anything that may seem too strange to be true. Something useful in all aspects of our life.

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