How Deepfakes are Changing Social Media and News Distribution

  • “For more than a century, audio and video have functioned as a bedrock of truth. Not only have sound and images recorded our history, they have also informed and shaped our perception of reality,” explained Donie O’Sullivan from CNN Business.
  • Technology has grown immensely in the past decade, as Artificial Intelligence (AI) now possesses the ability to mass produce deepfakes. A deepfake is a video that is made to look and sound like someone else, but has been altered with AI.
  • The AI uses code of video from someone to then put together a manipulation of what the person sounds and looks like while talking.
  • The term “deepfake” was coined from the website Redditt.
  • The first deepfakes made were female celebrities faces being put on other women’s bodies in pornographic videos.
  • These videos are then posted on social media to misinform the public and start a rumor/announce information about something that may not even be true.
  • It’s easy to be misled by a deepfake, especially on social media. Which then leads to trust issues with news sources and social media itself.
  • A popular deepfake example is actor and comedian Jordan Peele acting as former President Barack Obama speaking in the Oval Office.
  • Cristian Vaccari and Andrew Chadwick from Sage Journals explain this deepfake example.
  • “Obama’s and Peele’s facial expressions and lip movements match perfectly. Using artificial intelligence (AI), Peele’s production team has digitally reconstructed Obama’s face to mirror his. As AI synthesizes Peele’s face while Peele impersonates Obama with his voice it becomes clear that this is an ingenious public service announcement about how online video can be manipulated.” (Vaccari and Chadwick)
  • Political deepfakes are the most common, and create video-based disinformation for news distribution and social media.
  • Social media is already a tricky place, but when deepfakes are posted an untrained eye is not going to pick up that it is fake and none of what is being said is true.
  • gives us another example of a social media deepfake made.
  • “A Tik Tok account claiming to be set up by Robert Pattinson amassed over 600,000 followers a few weeks after being set up in late March 2022. This struck many people as odd, as the Hollywood star had famously stated that he did not want to take part in social media in 2019. Sure enough, the videos were deepfakes and the account has since been deleted.” (Verdict)
  • Social media is the hub for deepfakes as that is where many people consume their news and hear about what is happening in the world.
  • Verdict adds, “The number of deepfakes has increased over the past few years. According to a Sensity report published in 2020, the number of expertly crafted deepfakes has been doubling every six months since records began in 2018, with no signs of slowing.”
  • In The Weekly, S1 E21: Fake Believe, there are a group of guys from Dessa- a tech startup in Toronto that are trying to make the perfect deepfake.
  • Andréa Schmidt, New York Times says, “If successful, they’ll have created the ultimate deepfake, an ultra realistic video that makes people appear to say and do things they haven’t. Experts warn it may only be a matter of time before someone creates a bogus video that’s convincing enough to fool millions of people.”
  • They took more than 4 months to make a 97% accurate deepfake of a fake Joe Rogan announcement.
  • This is just an example of what is going on in the world of AI and how people are using their skills and technology to “lie” to the world on social media.
  • “Trust in news is declining across the world (Hanitzsch et al., 2018) and trust in news on social media is now lower than in news accessed through other channels (Newman et al., 2018).” (Vaccari and Chadwick)
  • Deepfakes are circulating the internet and appearing on social media more often than not, and they are creating distrust within viewers and news distribution.
  • Brands/companies have started using deepfakes to prove points on social media.
  • According to Brittaney Keifer, AD Week, “[Dove] set up a social experiment that uses Deepfake technology to expose the dangers of toxic beauty advice online.”
  • Jonathan Haidt from The Atlantic expands on how social media is affecting our society. “Social scientists have identified at least three major forces that collectively bind together successful democracies: social capital (extensive social networks with high levels of trust), strong institutions, and shared stories. Social media has weakened all three.” (Haidt)
  • This proves that social media and news distribution are affected deeply by the creation of deepfakes.



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Melissa Berman

Graduate Student at Hofstra University pursuing a Master’s in Entertainment Journalism. BA ’20 Journalism from Hofstra University.