Weaponizing Deepfakes


As part of a smear campaign designed to eliminate her daughter’s cheerleading rivals, a woman in Bucks County, Penn., created deepfakes depicting her daughter’s rivals naked, drinking, or smoking. Then, according to the Bucks County DA, she sent them to her daughter’s coaches and to the victims of her attack with text messages urging the teenaged girls to kill themselves.

I’m shocked, but not surprised. Weaponized content is not new. Propaganda is as old as human communication. What is new is the speed at which the tools are improving, as well as the new job titles. With a little training, you can become a “cognitive hacker” or a “social engineer.”

The ecosystem is fully in place. Social media platforms thrive on the engagement, those schooled in the art profit from their technical prowess, and those who benefit from the weaponized content have a world of new attack vectors. Who says AI isn’t creating new jobs?

My essay from last Sunday, Be (Very) Worried about the Tom Cruise Deepfakes, explores the dark side of deepfake tech. I’ve also got a free eBook called “What You Need To Know About Deepfakes” if you want to dive a little deeper into the subject.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.



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