Through deepfake technology, a Japanese man became a young female social media influencer for the likes. Punchlines aside, it is part of a worrying trend.
“I got carried away as I tried to make it cuter,” so says Zonggu, a 50-year-old Japanese man who decided to catfish the internet, pretending that he was a young female social media influencer…for the clout?
As he explained to a Japanese entertainment show, Zonggu justified his actions, stating that he feared “…no one will read what a normal middle-aged man, taking care of his motorcycle and taking pictures outside posts on his account.”
So, instead of say deleting his account and moving on with his life, Zonggu decided to create the deepfake deception. “First I just tried, then it happened to turn out to be fairly pretty,” he said on the program. “I get as many as 1,000 ‘likes’ now, though it was usually below 10 before.”
As Futurism noted, the big reveal has not dented his following. “At the time of his confession, he had around 19,000 followers on Twitter. That has since ballooned to more than 24,000 followers at the time of reporting this,” the publication wrote.
While we can chortle at the surrealist punchlines that deepfakes have thrown up (such as Mark Zuckerberg warning of the dangers of Facebook, Barack Obama calling Donald Trump a “dipshit”, or Bill Hader morphing into Tom Cruise), the evolution of this technology has directly targeted women, especially within the realms of revenge porn.
As it was noted in 2019, 97 per cent of deepfakes online are of a pornographic nature. Initially, it started with celebrity figures (such as Scarlett Johannsson and Gal Gadot), but there are numerous examples of lesser-known women who are discovering that they’ve been included in pornography via AI technology.
Technology Review shared the story of Helen Mort, a Sheffield-based broadcaster, who awoke one morning to find herself embroiled in such a situation. As the publication noted, “what shocked her most was that the images were based on photos, dated between 2017 and 2019, that had been taken from her private social media accounts, including a Facebook profile she’d deleted. The perpetrator had uploaded these non-intimate images—holiday and pregnancy photos and even pictures of her as a teenager—and encouraged other users to edit her face into violent pornographic photos. While some were shoddily Photoshopped, others were chillingly realistic. When she began researching what had happened, she learned a new term: deepfakes, referring to media-generated and manipulated by AI.”
“It really makes you feel powerless, like you’re being put in your place,” she says. “Punished for being a woman with a public voice of any kind. That’s the best way I can describe it. It’s saying, ‘Look: we can always do this to you.’”
So, while we can chortle at the actions of an unremarkable motorcycle enthusiast, perhaps we should note the remarkable ease of his deception.