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Deepfakes, explained — the rise of realistic fake videos online

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Deepfakes, videos that have been manipulated to make it look like the subject is realistically saying or doing something they didn’t, have officially entered the mainstream.

In 2019, fake videos of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and “Game of Thrones” character Jon Snow went viral and inspired responses from some of the most powerful people in the world.

The mode of manipulation, and deepfakery as a pastime, was seemingly popularized around pornography, in which denizens of certain online communities would swap celebrity faces with those found in porn. Now, following earlier warnings in 2017 around the initial deepfake movement, the nightmare scenario has become a reality as some of the most influential people in the world, and their audiences, have become targets of deepfakers.

This is how deepfakes catapulted into the mainstream consciousness, and a look at what’s actually at stake when considering the rise of fake video.

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