‘Consent not required’: The worrying rise of MrDeepFakes

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‘Consent not required’: The worrying rise of MrDeepFakes

The swift and sinister rise of MrDeepFakes, believed to be one of the most-visited deepfake porn sites in the world, has been highlighted in a new BBC documentary: Deepfake Porn: Could You Be Next?

With image and video-generating artificial intelligence (AI) technology becoming incredibly sophisticated in recent years, as well as other, non-AI image-faking technology, the popularity of deepfake porn videos showing fake depictions of celebrities has also risen.

MrDeepFakes features incredibly realistic fake sex videos of many of the world’s biggest celebrities. The site was revealed to have 13 million visitors each month, and 250,000 members. It was also reported that MrDeepFakes has over 20,000 videos.

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A still from the BBC’s Deepfake Porn: Could You Be Next?

None of the explicit fake videos are believed to have been made with the consent of the person depicted in them. Many women —‍in the public eye or otherwise—‍ have been targeted for blackmail or extortion by criminals threatening to release deepfake porn videos featuring their images.

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As deepfake technology improves fast fears about further behavior like this, plus other acts of revenge porn featuring deepfakes, have similarly expanded exponentially.

Mr Deepfakes wears a mask

The man behind MrDeepFake spoke to the BBC for the documentary, albeit anonymously and behind the guide of a deepfake 3D character. He showed no remorse about what he’d created, arguing that consent for the fake videos was “not required”.

“I think that as long as you’re not trying to pass it off as a real thing, that shouldn’t really matter, because it’s basically fake,” he said. “I don’t really feel that consent is required. It’s a fantasy, it’s not real.”

“The technology will only get better and it’s increasingly difficult to tell the difference between a real video and a fake video. There will be a point in the future where any of us could be deepfaked,” the MrDeepFake boss also says.

He added that victims of deepfake videos “could just brush it off”.

Although shocking, the attitude of the MrDeepFake founder should not be particularly surprising, considering how much he’s likely to have gained from the rise in popularity of the site.

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MrDeepFake in his deepfake BBC documentary guise

The UK’s long-mooted Online Safety Bill, likely to be debated in Parliament soon, is set to address the issue of deepfake porn. Campaigners say that not enough is being done by authorities to crack down on deepfake porn videos and their associated crimes.

In early 2022, a study found that participants judged AI-generated faces to be as realistic as real faces, further raising fears about misuse of the technology.

Read next: ‘Robot licking human’: DALL-E 2 can create intimate images, but don’t expect AI porn // xHamster blocked in Germany, stoking fears of further porn censorship //

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Jamie F

Jamie F

Jamie is a freelance writer, contributing to outlets such as The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, CNN and Vice.

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