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Are Deepfakes Taking Over TikTok?

Updated: May 9, 2023

As I was scrolling through TikTok one day, I came across a video featuring Keanu Reeves doing the latest TikTok trends. However, something about the video seemed off - the facial expressions and mannerisms didn't quite match up with what I expected from the actor. My curiosity piqued, I dug deeper and discovered that the username for the account was "unreal keanu." It was then that I realized: I was watching a deepfake.

But what is a deepfake, you may be asking? In short, it's a video or image that has been manipulated using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques to make it appear as if someone is saying or doing something they didn't actually say or do. According to Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert at the University of California, "Deepfakes are a relatively new type of media manipulation that uses AI-based algorithms to create highly realistic, synthesized images and video of people."

Deepfakes first emerged on the internet in 2017, but it wasn't until recently that they really started to take over TikTok. In fact, a number of celebrities now have deepfake accounts on the platform, including "unreal keanu," as well as "fake tom cruise," "fake jason statham," and "fake robert pattinson." These accounts have amassed thousands of followers, who are likely unaware that they are not watching the real celebrities.

According to a report by CNBC, the use of deepfakes on social media platforms like TikTok has grown significantly in recent years. In fact, the report states that "the number of deepfake videos on the internet has increased by a factor of 10 every year since 2018." This rapid growth is concerning, as deepfakes have the potential to be used for malicious purposes, such as spreading misinformation or defaming individuals.

So why are deepfakes becoming so popular on TikTok? One reason could be that they allow users to create and share content featuring their favorite celebrities, even if those celebrities have not actually participated in the content. This can be both a benefit and a potential problem. On the one hand, it allows for creativity and allows users to have fun with their content. On the other hand, it can also be used to spread misinformation and cause harm, particularly if deepfake content is used to manipulate elections or defame individuals.

But how can you spot a deepfake on TikTok? One way is to look for the verified checkmark, which indicates that the account belongs to a real celebrity. However, this may not always be a reliable indicator, as deepfake accounts can also be verified. Another way to spot a deepfake is to pay attention to the video or image itself. Look for any discrepancies or inconsistencies in the person's appearance, such as sudden changes in their facial structure or unnatural movements. You can also use reverse image search tools to see if the content has been altered or manipulated.

Spotting a deepfake on TikTok can be challenging, as the technology used to create them is becoming increasingly sophisticated. However, there are a few things to look for that can help you identify a deepfake.

  1. Look for unnatural or exaggerated movements in the video, such as blinking or lip syncing that does not match the audio.

  2. Check for inconsistencies in lighting, shadows, or reflections in the video.

  3. Pay attention to the background, as deepfakes may have inconsistencies or anomalies in the background that are not present in the original video.

  4. Use specialized software and tools designed to detect deepfakes, such as those offered by companies like Deeptrace or Sensity.

It's important to remember that deepfake technology can be used for both good and bad. While it has the potential to be a powerful tool for creating innovative content, it can also be misused to spread misinformation and cause harm. That's why it's important for us to be aware of deepfakes and to use our critical thinking skills to determine the authenticity of the content we come across online.

If you want to help stop the misuse of deepfakes, consider reporting any suspicious content you come across on social media platforms and using tools like fact-checking websites to verify information.

At Cinemagic, we harness the same technologies towards storytelling, filmmaking and innovation. We believe that this kind of innovation should be used towards progress and with responsibility to avoid misinformation and misuse.

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