The internet’s search engines are facing a growing problem with the proliferation of non-consensual deepfake pornography. These deceptive and explicit representations, created using artificial intelligence (AI), have spread at an alarming rate, posing threats to individuals’ online privacy and dignity.
Since their first appearance five years ago, deepfakes have been constantly used to harass and assault women by superimposing their faces onto pornographic content without their consent. With advancements in AI technology and an expanding ecosystem of deepfakes, the number of these impersonations continues to grow exponentially.
A research study shared by Wired highlights the severity of the issue, estimating that at least 244,626 deepfake videos have been uploaded to 35 pornography websites in the last seven years, either in part or in whole.
However, the trend became even more alarming in 2023, with 113,000 videos uploaded to websites in the first nine months alone, representing a 54% increase compared to the 73,000 uploaded throughout 2022. It is projected that by the end of December, more videos will have been produced in 2023 than the total sum of the previous two years.
This issue has given rise to an industry that primarily targets women and operates without their consent or knowledge. Additionally, there are applications that allow for the “undressing” of individuals in photos with just a few clicks. Sophie Maddocks, a researcher in digital rights and cybersexual violence at the University of Pennsylvania, emphasizes that this problem affects everyday people, from high school students to adults.
The ease with which these images can be created and shared contributes to their proliferation, making it a problem that demands urgent attention and regulatory measures. Experts suggest the need for new laws and regulations, as well as increased education about these technologies.
They also urge companies hosting websites and search engines to take action to reduce the spread of non-consensual deepfakes.
The Rapid Growth of Non-Consensual Deepfake Pornography
The rise of non-consensual deepfake pornography has become a significant concern for both individuals and society as a whole. These manipulative videos, created using AI, pose a threat to privacy, consent, and online dignity. When deepfakes first emerged five years ago, they were primarily used to harass and exploit women by superimposing their faces onto explicit content without their permission. However, as AI technology has advanced and the deepfake ecosystem has expanded, the number of impersonations has skyrocketed. Wired’s investigation reveals that at least 244,626 deepfake videos have been uploaded to 35 pornography websites over the past seven years, indicating the magnitude of this problem.
The year 2023 has witnessed a particularly alarming surge in non-consensual deepfake pornography. In the first nine months alone, 113,000 videos were uploaded to websites, representing a 54% increase compared to the entire year of 2022, during which 73,000 videos were uploaded. This staggering growth rate indicates that by the end of December, the production of deepfake videos in 2023 will surpass the total number produced in the previous two years combined.
The Impact on Individuals and Society
The proliferation of non-consensual deepfake pornography has had far-reaching consequences for individuals of all backgrounds, ranging from high school students to adults. Sophie Maddocks, a digital rights and cybersexual violence researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, emphasizes the severity of this issue. She highlights that the ease with which deepfake images can be created and shared contributes to their rapid spread. As a result, urgent attention and regulatory measures are necessary to address this problem effectively.
The victims of non-consensual deepfake pornography suffer significant harm to their privacy, dignity, and mental well-being. These videos infringe upon their consent and can lead to long-lasting emotional trauma. Moreover, the proliferation of deepfake technology poses a threat to society as a whole, as it erodes trust and undermines the authenticity of online content. The increasing prevalence of deepfakes not only impacts individuals directly affected but also creates a culture of fear and distrust in the online space.
Urgent Need for Legislative Action and Regulation
To combat the alarming rise of non-consensual deepfake pornography, experts stress the importance of enacting new laws and regulations. These measures would not only deter individuals from creating and distributing deepfakes but also provide legal recourse for victims. Additionally, increased education and awareness about deepfakes and their potential consequences are crucial in preventing their proliferation.
Companies hosting websites and search engines also have a role to play in curbing the spread of non-consensual deepfake pornography. By implementing stricter content moderation policies and investing in AI-driven detection systems, these platforms can take proactive steps to remove and prevent the uploading of deepfake videos. Collaboration between technology companies, law enforcement agencies, and advocacy groups is essential to develop effective strategies to combat this issue.
The alarming increase in non-consensual deepfake pornography poses a significant threat to individuals’ privacy, consent, and online dignity. As AI technology advances, the production and spread of these manipulative videos continue to grow exponentially. Urgent action is needed through legislative measures, increased education, and improved content moderation to address this issue effectively. By working together, society can protect individuals from the harm caused by non-consensual deepfake pornography and promote a safer digital environment for all.