Back in December, Motherboard explored reddit's growing obsession with an open source AI technology that was being used to map celebrity faces and place them over adult videos to create their own porn. Since then, videos have emerged bearing the likeness of Gal Gardot, Emma Watson , Maisie Williams, Taylor Swift and Daisy Ridley. Welcome to the world of deepfakes.
Celebrities are common masturbation fodder and when it comes down to it there is nothing inherently wrong with fantasy. I mean who wants to actually police what gets you off as long as there is no harm caused? Except deepfakes isn't a victimless crime because the videos are so realistic. The legislation is a little fuzzy because it's not revenge porn in the traditional sense. It's not a nude picture that's been leaked, it's someone's home-made fantasy made public. The existence of deepfakes doesn't read like a traditional privacy violation because they're that, fake, but it doesn't stop them from being a deeply personal one.
The technology to create these videos is readily available and a lot of the videos bypass the uncanny valley instead looking hyper realistic. Again, no one is saying that you can't jack off to the celebrity of your choice, the problem lies in the appropriating of someone's images to create adult videos without their permission. They haven't made explicit videos for you to watch and distribute. Maybe part of the appeal is the humiliation and the exploitation. Maybe part of it is novelty. However by watching and creating these deepfakes we are taking the human aspect out of sexuality, and well, it's not as much fun unless all parties are in to it.
Reddit has taken down the deepfakes board and twitter is banning any users who share these videos. Google is taking down links for non consensual porn and PornHub has began removing any of these videos once flagged. However since it's the internet, nothing stays lost forever and sites like PornHub by their very nature can't keep up with the rate of users uploads.
The existence of apps like this and the prevalence of these sorts of videos underscores how much work there is still to be done concerning consent and the respect of women's sexual autonomy. Hopefully we'll see this in the future, but as long as people are making and sharing these videos we are a long way off.
Images: Pierre Schmidt