Microfake: How small-scale deepfakes can undermine society

As featured in Journal of Digital Media & Policy



Advances in deepfake technology have led to the emergence of a new picture of how doctored material will be used in disinformation campaigns. While safeguards ensure that manipulated videos may not be such a problem at the highest levels of security and defence, lower levels ‐ such as local elections ‐ remain vulnerable to malign actors. At such levels, deepfakes can be distributed using social media channels to target unsuspecting victims. Current solutions only protect individuals who are prominent enough to be covered by the mainstream media, and not enough is being done by governments or social media companies to protect ordinary users from coordinated inauthentic activity online. However, with more images and videos of ourselves online than ever before, anyone can be a victim of a disinformation campaign. As deepfakes become easier to make, no one is safe ‐ hyper-localized manipulation will create problems for democratic institutions that have not yet been fully understood.