Deepfake technology WILL lead to multiple child-suicides.

Jim Meadows
Sep 9, 2019 · 2 min read
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Happy Monday.

The advancement in “deepfake” technology is rapid. Also, through apps like ZAU, it is reaching young people in their millions. The press are making a significant amount of noise about its future impact in politics — in particular, the next US election.

To me, the most significant concern deep-fake raises are its role within bullying. Cyber-bullying is shown to increase the likelihood of suicide in young people by 230% [Swansea University]. Also, a staggering 1-in-3 experience some form of it between the age of 15–19.

The ability for young people to be replicated in a false reality is concerning.

Rumors already fly through peer messaging groups like wildfire. Imagine the impact of your image manipulated into pornographic content or your voice being used to sermonize hate-speech. Now imagine this type of content shared across your entire peer group. Unfortunately, psychology dictates that at least some people will believe the reality. Younger people are amongst those less likely to have “skeptical reasoning” to challenge fake content [Stamford 2016].

In the US, suicide in young people is trending up. Between 2015–2017 suicide in women 15–19 rose by 40% and in men by 30% [CDC/NBC] and in the UK have doubled in 8 years [Office of National Statistics 2019].

Social media, of course, plays its role. We are, all of us, projecting a distorted version of the world to young people who are trying to understand who they are and how they fit in. This has been shown to have a negative impact, especially to those who are experiencing anxiety and broader mental health issues [CDC].

So what then is going to happen when people have the means to create ultra-realistic miss-information in the 8 seconds it takes ZAU?

Knowing that 51% of 13–17’s have seen people circulating non-consensual intimate images, and over 23% witnessing people taking sexual pictures of someone and sharing them [ChildNet]- we have to expect this technology will be misused, and come to terms with the fact that lives will be in the balance.

What can we as marketers and technologists do to help? Thinking twice about using this technology for entertainment, at least until regulation comes in, would be a great start.

This is a rabbit-hole, and I appreciate I’m just scratching the surface but thought it worthy of some awareness. I’d love to hear your opinion or any recommendation for further reading.




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