Deep Fakes: Can you trust your eyes?

Channel 4 Dispatches - Monday 28th December 2020, 6pm(GMT), Channel 4.

Dispatches investigates the world of internet deepfakes and their effect on the lives of people as well as whole nations - from embarrassing famous figures to influencing elections.

DeepFakes

This Christmas, Channel 4 entertained the global with DeepFake Queen Elizabeth II while also proving no-one is immune from a Deep Fake. While many are purely for laughs, in Dispatches: Deep Fakes: Can You Trust Your Eyes? Reporter Morland Sanders will shine a light on the tech’s dark side. The investigation reveals new statistics showing how the world is being bombarded with fake content and asks if the UK government is doing enough to combat the growing number of deep fake videos on the internet.

Very few deep fakes are created for the public good. Most are out there to cause harm or humiliation and new figures obtained by Dispatches reveal the world is being bombarded with them, and Britain is a top target.

Giorgio Patrini from Sensity:

“Our research shows that just in the last 12 months we were able to identify more than 60,000 deep fake videos on, in the wild, in the web. So those are newly created just in 2020. And this corresponds to a growth for this year of about 250% in terms of number, or the volume, of the videos that you've seen online.”

When asked how significant a target the UK is when it comes to deep fakes and why that is, Patrini continued:

“The UK, it is a very significant target. If you look at worldwide statistics, we actually calculated about a 10% of the deep fake video, that we know of on the internet, would feature victims that are British nationals…. Most of the targets, most of the victims that we see in the fakes are coming from the entertainment industry, the reason why we see that UK up there in the statistic is mainly due to the exposure of the British culture around the world, because that make interesting to feature those people in a video.”

DeepFakes

In the New Year the UK government is hoping to introduce the Online Harms Bill into Parliament, MP Damian Collins hopes it will combat the volume of damaging deep fakes that can be found online.

Damian Collins MP (Chair – Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee 2016-2019)

“Now this is a really landmark piece of legislation that will create special responsibilities and liabilities for social media companies to act against harmful content, deepfake films, and other forms of harmful content directed at people of all ages. What we're seeing is on an industrial scale, disinformation being created and spread through social media, to the extent that it crowds out real media, sometimes it creates very distorted impressions of what's happening.”

At this stage, it’s unclear if the bill will be able to control the alarming increase in deep fakes.

However, whatever legislation is bought in, some lawyers aren’t confident it will work. 

Kelsey Farish from law firm DAC Beachcroft:

“The issue that we have with online legislation and attempts to regulate the online ecosystem is that there are really no borders on the internet. So, if you had the best most robust piece of UK legislation. It still doesn't matter because someone from the US or Canada or elsewhere could create something that isn't captured by that regulation. Once something is posted online, it's an incredibly difficult to regain or indeed maintain control.”

When asked by Morland Sanders about criminally minded people being able to find a way around any legislation, Kelsey Farish responded:

“Absolutely. I mean, we have some of the most intelligent, educated people in the world who are working on this problem and there's still no real way at scale. That's the key issue here at scale to detect these deep fakes. As soon as you have a detection method that works in practice, some really clever person is going to come up with a way to evade it and skirt around it.”

Nina Schick, author of Deep Fakes and the Infocalypse, has advised world leaders on the issue of deep fakes, she told Dispatches that our entire way of life is at stake:

“It will mean that for certain political systems, specifically liberal democracy, it could be a very dystopian future. How can you run an election? How can you run a society? How can you run a government if there is no agreement on what is real or what is not.”

The Deepfake Queen's Christmas message.
DeepFake Queen Elizabeth II's Alternative Royal Christmas Message 2020

The Deepfake Queen's Christmas message has aired at Channel 4 on 03:25pm, December 25, 2020 GMT.

Last updated: Yesteday

Watch Now