Will You Believe It When You See It? How and Why The Press Should Prepare for Deepfakes

Cite as: 4 GEO. L. TECH. REV. 241 (2019)

On April 23, 2013, the Associated Press Twitter account tweeted “Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured.”1 While the claim was false and the result of a hack, its effects were very real: in three minutes the Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted $136 billion in market value.2 The market recovered after the White House and Associated Press scrambled to refute the claim, but what if the tweet had been equally alarming yet far less rebuttable? A tweet falsely warning of an impending attack on the White House accompanied by a realistic video of terrorists planning for it would lead to a panic that could not be stopped by a single retraction tweet. The technology to fabricate such a video already exists, and future advances will render forgeries undetectable to the human eye.

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Lauren Renaud

Georgetown Law, J.D. 2019. Lauren Renaud is an attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice. The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Justice or the United States.