Africa: Manipulating Reality – the Rise of Deepfakes and How to Spot Them

Deepfake technology has introduced a terrifying new frontier in the internet-based disinformation nexus that has been creating chaos around the world over the past few years.

Using artificial intelligence (AI) to distort audio and video, convincing deepfakes can be made by pretty much anyone with the right hardware and software and a few hours to kill. The results can wreak havoc on individual livelihoods and reputations, but more frighteningly, can be used to manipulate en masse. While this may sound like the finishing touches on a looming dystopia, there’s hope for us all yet.

Around 500 hours of video content are uploaded to the social sharing site YouTube every minute of every day. The site consequently houses an unimaginable amount of video — and is just one of many that allow anyone anywhere to upload moving images of themselves and others, with little to no restrictions or oversight.

As Dr Alexa Koenig of the University of Berkeley Human Rights Center pointed out in conversation with the Institute for Security Studies’ senior research adviser, Karen Allen, it’s impossible to know how much of that endless ream of content is real and how much is fake.

Manipulating content — text, documents, photographs,…

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