Deepfake Videos on the Rise as Non-Experts Get into the Game

New research shows that in the last seven months the number of deepfake videos on the Internet increased by nearly 15,000.
Donna Fuscaldo
Deepfake peepo/iStock

Deeptrace, the startup founded last year to research deepfakes be it videos or images that are now spreading on the Internet, reported some sobering news 7 October. 

It revealed that in the last seven months the number of deepfake videos nearly doubled to 14,678.  What's more, the number of deepfakes is up 75% from a year-ago with more than 850 people targeted. 


Deepfakes subvert audio, video, texts 

"The rise of synthetic media and deepfakes is forcing us towards an important and unsettling realization: our historical belief that video and audio are reliable records of reality is no longer tenable," wrote Giorgio Patrini PhD, CEO, Chief Scientist and
Co-founder of Deeptrace. "With the development of synthetic media and deepfakes...every digital communication channel our society is built upon, whether that be audio, video, or even text, is at risk of being subverted."

According to Deeptrace, the increase is being aided by a growing number of tools and services that make it easier for "non-experts" to create these fake videos.  Deeptrace found twenty deepfake creation community websites and forums, with 13 of them disclosing their membership which is close to 100,000. That doesn't take into account the 7 sites that haven't reported how many people use their tools. 

Pornography leads when it comes to deepfake videos 

The group found that 96% of the total deepfake videos online were non-consensual deepfake pornography. Of the top four websites that focus on deepfake porn, they had more than 134 million views of videos that targeted hundreds of female celebrities across the globe.  Deeptrace said this underscores the big market there is for websites to create and host deepfake porn. The group predicted it will increase if nothing is done. 

On the political front, Deeptrace said these fake videos and images are also making a mark. Deeptrace pointed to two cases, one in Gabon and the other in Malaysia where deepfakes were used to allege a government cover-up and to smear a political rival. "Seen together, these examples are possibly the most powerful indications of how deepfakes are already destabilizing political processes. Without defensive countermeasures, the integrity of democracies around the world are at risk," wrote Patrini. 

Outside of porn and politics, deepfakes are being used to engage in social engineering to scam businesses and governments. This year reports have surfaced of hackers using synthetic voice audio and synthetic people to scam their victims. 


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