In a concerning trend, cybercriminals are increasingly utilising artificial intelligence (AI) tools to craft convincing deepfake representations of celebrities.
They exploit these likenesses to deceive fans, tricking them into parting with their money and cryptocurrency.
According to recent reports, incidents of such deceptive content have surged by a staggering 87% in the past year alone.
This issue came to the forefront when YouTube personality, Mr Beast, shared with his substantial X (formerly known as Twitter) following of over 24 million that he had fallen victim to one such scheme.
Podcast host, science communicator, and poker champion Liv Boeree replied:
“They are not, and neither is democracy.”
What Is A Deepfake?
A deepfake is like a digital disguise for videos or images.
It is made using computer programmes that can swap someone’s face or voice with another person’s, creating a fake video or picture that looks real.
People often use deepfakes for fun, like putting their face on a famous actor’s body in a video, but they can also be used to trick or deceive others by making it seem like someone said or did something they never actually did.
So, in simple terms, a deepfake is a digital trick that makes it look like someone is doing or saying something they did not do in real life.
Who Are Some Of The Unfortunate Celebrities Targeted By Deepfakes?
The rise of AI-generated deepfakes has ignited widespread concern, with global leaders, policymakers, and law enforcement echoing the apprehensions expressed by individuals like Liv.
The case of Mr Beast, whose real name is James Donaldson, is merely the latest example of celebrities falling victim to unauthorised use of their likeness in online scams or campaigns.
Over the weekend, actor Tom Hanks took to Instagram to alert his fans about a deceptive campaign promoting a dental plan, employing an AI-generated version of the Academy Award-winning actor without his consent.
He addressed the recent emergence of an AI-generated video featuring the acclaimed actor in an unexpected context — an endorsement of a dental plan:
“Beware! There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me. I have nothing to do with it.”
In a parallel development, an Instagram post from the daughter of the late Robin Williams, Zelda Williams, decried the exploitation of her father’s voice in commercial content through AI replication.
Additionally, there is a disconcerting trend of exploiting well-known female actors like Taylor Swift, Natalie Portman, and Emma Watson in deepfake pornography, catering to more prurient interests.
Even though Tom Cruise has not publicly addressed the issue, a viral AI deepfake featuring him circulated on social media last year.
Notably, actors are not the sole targets of AI manipulation.
In August, singer Selena Gomez found herself at the centre of an audio AI deepfake posted on Instagram, featuring a fabricated rendition of the artist singing a remix of The Weeknd’s “Starboy.”
These instances underscore the growing challenges posed by AI-generated deepfakes and their impact on individuals across various domains.