Apply the skill of critical thinking: how to identify deepfake videos

By Antony Groves

As our post last month demonstrated, AI is making it easier for us to create and appear in videos (in some cases through artificially generated avatars that use our voices). Following on, this companion piece focuses on how we can evaluate such creations.

It is important to think critically about the outputs of these tools as they can also make it easier to create deepfakes where people are artificially added to videos, appearing to say things that they never actually did.

Mark Zuckerberg in a 'deepfake' image.
Mark Zuckerberg in a ‘deepfake’ image.

This is an issue because, as the Library and Information Association have campaigned, facts matter: we need to know that the information we are using is credible (or, more accurately, we should be aware when it is not). 

Although there are now AI powered tools working to catch AI generated deepfakes in a game of digital cat and mouse, we’ll finish this post with guidance on how to break the cycle and apply our own intelligence and critical thinking skills to AI generated video content.

While the Skills Hub contains guidance about critically evaluating sources, some of which can be applied to deepfakes (in particular the CRAAP method for evaluating resources), the MIT Media Lab identify eight specific things that you can look out for to help you spot a deepfake video:

  1. Pay attention to the face. High-end DeepFake manipulations are almost always facial transformations. 
  2. Pay attention to the cheeks and forehead. Does the skin appear too smooth or too wrinkly? Is the agedness of the skin similar to the agedness of the hair and eyes? DeepFakes may be incongruent on some dimensions.
  3. Pay attention to the eyes and eyebrows. Do shadows appear in places that you would expect? DeepFakes may fail to fully represent the natural physics of a scene. 
  4. Pay attention to the glasses. Is there any glare? Is there too much glare? Does the angle of the glare change when the person moves? Once again, DeepFakes may fail to fully represent the natural physics of lighting.
  5. Pay attention to the facial hair or lack thereof. Does this facial hair look real? DeepFakes might add or remove a mustache, sideburns, or beard. But, DeepFakes may fail to make facial hair transformations fully natural.
  6. Pay attention to facial moles.  Does the mole look real? 
  7. Pay attention to blinking. Does the person blink enough or too much? 
  8. Pay attention to the lip movements. Some deepfakes are based on lip syncing. Do the lip movements look natural?

So while you’re developing your video creation skills, also remember your video evaluation skills, which you can practice further at Detect Fakes.

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