How to Spot Deepfakes and Misinformation

It’s now possible for people to create very convincing fake videos using AI technology. But do you know how to spot deepfakes and misinformation? We look at how you can separate fact from fiction and how you can protect yourself online.

What are deepfakes?

A deepfake is a fake video that has been created using AI technology which can create images, videos and audio that look convincingly like real people. For example, someone could take a video of a celebrity and use this technology to change what they’ve said or where they are in the scene.

In the video below, Dr Matthew Aylett explains how deepfakes are created and how they are being used online. There are many entertaining ways deepfakes can be used, such as in music videos or art. However, Dr Matthew Aylett also warns us about the dangers of deepfakes and how they can be used to trick people into believing things that aren’t true.

How to spot a deepfake

Technology is improving all the time, meaning it’s getting harder to tell the difference between a genuine video and a deepfake video. The Ferret, an investigative journalism platform, has a fact-checking service and offers some tips for how you can spot a deepfake:

  • Have a close look at the background. Are signs or road markings in the background distorted in some way?
  • Does the photo or video have a slightly unreal sheen, without any obvious natural blemishes?
  • Don’t get all your news from a handful of social accounts you like. Seek out a variety of media outlets.
  • If you’re unsure a video is genuine, you can double-check it with a quick web search to see if it’s been posted by other trusted media outlets.
  • You can also see if different news outlets have told the story differently.

If you’re unsure a video is real make sure to use your fact-checking skills!

Misinformation

With deepfakes becoming more realistic, they can be a powerful tool to spread misinformation. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you see a story you’re unsure is true:

  1. Does the story make sense? If the story or information seems unlikely this could be a sign of misinformation.
  2. Where did the story come from? What are they trying to say? Look to see if you can find the same story somewhere else. Checking multiple sources is a great way to make sure that a person can be trusted, as it shows that other reporters have come to the same conclusion about a news story and that it’s more likely to be true.
  3. Who is telling this story, and what do you know about them? They may have a reason for sharing or might have made mistakes. Some sources are more reliable than others – make sure you’re getting news from journalists and official news sites, rather than just social media.
  4. Is the story recent or old? It could be outdated or a copy of something that happened years ago. 
  5. Is the video trying to convince you to do something or buy something? Is that offer too good to be true? If you’re unsure, check the company’s official page (this might be shown by having a blue tick on some platforms, note that accounts that say ‘official’ or ‘verified’ in the username, don’t necessarily indicate it’s the actual account) or website

If you want to know more about fact-checking and how to protect yourself online, visit our DigiKnow campaign page!

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