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Microfake: How small-scale deepfakes can undermine society

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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.
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Keywords: AI; coordinated inauthentic activity; cyber; deepfake; disinformation; politics; social media; synthetic media

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 0000000107468480The Royal United Services Institute

Publication date: June 1, 2020

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  • The Journal of Digital Media and Policy (formerly known asĀ International Journal of Digital Television) aims to analyse and explain the socio-cultural, political, economic and technological questions surrounding digital media and address the policy issues facing regulators globally. This double-blind-peer-reviewed journal brings together and shares the work of academics, policy-makers and practitioners, offering lessons from one another's experience. Content is broad and varied, ranging from a mixture of critical work on technology, industry and regulatory convergence, to the emerging wider socio-cultural and political questions such as the application of online networks, the rise of cloud computing and the Internet of Things. We intend to examine critically emerging wider questions such as the role of 'digital citizens', the regulatory environment for the new platform industry and the role of state regulation in an increasingly global media industry.
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