Rising Concerns: 61% of UK Females Fear Becoming Deepfake Victims

UK Females Fear Becoming Deepfake Pornography Victims

In a disturbing trend highlighting the dark side of advanced AI technology, a recent survey has found that a staggering 61% of women in the United Kingdom are worried about becoming victims of deepfake pornography. As the creation and dissemination of explicit deepfake content continues to rise, experts are calling for stricter laws and increased public awareness to combat this growing threat to women's privacy and safety.

Key Takeaways

61% of UK women fear becoming victims of deepfake pornography
Deepfake porn disproportionately targets and harms women
UK criminalizes sharing non-consensual deepfake porn, but creation remains legal
Experts call for stronger laws, platform accountability, and victim support
Individuals can protect themselves by limiting online sharing and using privacy settings
Combating deepfake porn requires collective action to uphold privacy and safety

The Deepfake Pornography Epidemic

Deepfakes, which are videos or images manipulated using artificial intelligence to make a person appear to say or do something they didn't, have become increasingly realistic and accessible in recent years. While the technology has some legitimate uses in entertainment and art, it has also been weaponized to create non-consensual pornographic content, with women being the primary targets.

According to a report by the AI firm Deeptrace, a shocking 96% of all deepfake videos online are pornographic, and 99% of those videos feature womenThe ease of creating deepfakes using free apps and online tutorials has fueled a 550% increase in the volume of deepfake porn from 2019 to 2023. The top 10 dedicated deepfake porn sites alone receive nearly 35 million monthly visits.

The Impact on Victims

Deepfake Pornography Impact on Victims

For the women who find themselves the unwitting stars of deepfake porn, the consequences can be devastating. Victims often experience severe emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. They may face reputational damage, harassment, blackmail attempts, and professional repercussions.

“It's a sexual violation that causes trauma, depression, and anxiety,” explains Samantha Cole, a senior staff writer at Vice who has reported extensively on the issue. “There are also few avenues of justice for those who find themselves the victims of deepfake porn.”

In the UK, the sharing of non-consensual deepfake pornography was criminalized under the Online Safety Act, which came into effect on January 31, 2024. Offenders now face up to six months in prison, or two years if they are proven to have acted with the intent to cause distress or for sexual gratification. However, the law does not explicitly ban the creation of deepfake porn, a loophole that some lawmakers are pushing to close.

“Making deepfake intimate images and videos is an appalling violation of somebody's autonomy and privacy and it should not be tolerated,” said Yvette Cooper, the UK's shadow home secretary, who is advocating for an amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill to make the creation of deepfakes illegal.

In the United States, only a handful of states have laws addressing deepfake pornography, and there is no federal legislation on the issue. Activists and legal experts are calling for more comprehensive protections for victims and accountability for perpetrators and platforms that enable the spread of non-consensual content.

Fighting Back Against Deepfakes

As the technology behind deepfakes continues to advance, experts stress the importance of a multi-faceted approach to combat the problem. This includes not only strengthening laws and enforcement but also increasing public awareness, improving content moderation on social media platforms, and investing in the development of deepfake detection tools.

Organizations like the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative provide support and resources for victims of image-based sexual abuse, including a 24/7 helpline. Activists and survivors are also speaking out to share their stories and push for change.

“Just talking about [deepfaking] as a woman paints a target on my back, along with other advocates, the female journalists covering this, the #swifties speaking out, and even female politicians who want to tackle the issue,” says Olivia DeRamus, founder and CEO of Communia, a social network created by and for women.

Protecting Yourself and Others

Protect yourself from Deepfake Pornography

While the fight against deepfake pornography requires systemic changes, there are steps individuals can take to protect themselves and support victims:

Be cautious about sharing intimate images online, even with trusted partners.
Use privacy settings on social media to limit access to your photos and videos.
Support and believe victims who come forward about their experiences.
Educate yourself and others about the realities and harms of deepfake pornography.
Advocate for stronger laws, platform accountability, and resources for victims.

As DeRamus notes, “It is our collective role to uphold the right to privacy and protection against all forms of NCII [non-consensual intimate imagery]. Whether it's a pop star or one of our peers, this is an issue we simply cannot shake off.”

The Path Forward

The alarming prevalence of deepfake pornography and its disproportionate impact on women demands urgent action from lawmakers, tech companies, and society as a whole. By confronting this issue head-on, we can work towards a future where everyone's privacy, dignity, and safety are protected both online and off.

As Professor Clare McGlynn, a leading expert on image-based sexual abuse, puts it: “Deepfake sexual abuse is commonly about trying to silence women who speak out. We see this with Taylor Swift. We see this with women politicians, where deepfake porn is an attempt to intimidate them. We see it with many women in the public eye.”

It's time to break the silence and take a stand against the deepfake pornography epidemic. Only by working together can we hope to turn the tide and create a safer, more just digital world for all.

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