How Might Disinformation Impact The Freelance Writing Market?
Will We Even Know Who We’re Writing For In Ten Years’ Time?
For anybody following developments in the deep fake and AI space, some of the recent developments in terms of video deep fakes are astounding.
Cheap, Easy Deepfakes Are Getting Closer to the Real Thing
There are many photos of Tom Hanks, but none like the images of the leading everyman shown at the Black Hat computer…
While the question of “how will this impact the freelance writing market?” is probably close to the relegation zone of concerns that policymakers have right now, as a freelance writer — with an interest in disinformation — I thought I would post some fanciful speculation here during the small hours of the night.
The Rise Of Fake Clients
I posted a few days ago about — roughly — how to create fictitious online identities using nothing more than a fake face generator and a bit of (online) elbow grease.
Because the purpose of the article was to demonstrate how this activity is a threat — rather than how to do it — I left some details up to the imagination.
How to create a fake online identity
And what you should do to avoid interacting with one
- What would happen if you created fake videos using those fake faces?
- What would happen if you, say, released a podcast under that fake identity’s name using a synthesized voice?
A fake online presence buttressed by video and podcast appearances would create a very compelling case that the purported identity were real.
We’re also currently seeing an avalanche of fake news and disinformation. And — for some time now — sketchy clients and questionable individuals have been utilizing the services of ORM firms in order to propagate disinformation and manipulate search engine results by seeding fake news. (Note: this isn’t all that ORM firms do and some don’t do this at all. But I did have a “brush” with this world during my very early days of freelancing).
Synthesizing all this information: it will be easier for corporations to engage in things like propagating disinformation and operating smear campaigns about competitors. In journalism, we’re likely to see the rise of fake whistleblowers and anonymous sources. These assets could be used by corporations in order to leak information to real journalists and news sites with consummate ease.
Where do freelancer writers fall into all this? They — wittingly or otherwise — may end up being the ones doing the heavy lifting of this work.
Major freelancing marketplaces are already gargantuan online jungles. Fictitious clients — shielding real end customers — would currently (mostly) have a very easy time blending in among the masses.
I expect that these marketplaces may be forced to institute more rigorous client identification procedures or some lightweight version of know your client (KYC) although it’s probably unrealistic to think that all the dubious buyers could be rooted out this way. Freelance writers may find their writing ending up in interesting parts of the internet.
The Rise Of Fake Writers
Among the many interesting applications of the rise of deepfakes, disinformation, and fictitious online identities is going to be the ability they provide to anonymize writers.
Traditionally pen names were fake names slapped on the cover of a book that authors didn’t want to trace back to themselves. These days pseudonyms could masquerade as veritable online people.
Besides book authors, journalists reporting on sensitive issues — investigative journalists spring immediately to mind —could use deepfake-supported fictitious online identities to report upon issues that might put their safety at risk without having to divulge their identity.
Fake News Will Become An Avalanche
The Tom Cruise deepfake videos are far more than just a Tik Tok phenomenon. They’re a harbinger for a tidal wave of disinformation and fake news that is threatening to wash over the internet.
The freelance writing marketplace is already sizeable and likely to only grow as the gig economy continues to displace traditional employment. These are some of the ways in which the rise of disinformation could impact upon this group.