You Won't Believe How Dangerous Digitally Altered Videos Have Become


Imagine if one morning you woke up and found a viral video going around the Internet of you saying something absolutely ridiculous and devastating to your reputation. ... But you didn't actually say anything of the sort; it was all a doctored video that someone else had created. Welcome to one of the threats we will face in the very near future.

An anonymous YouTube account “derpfakes” has created several face replacement videos on the site using digital alteration programming. He has made videos of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Vladimir Putin to name just a few.

The producer of the videos say they are being made simply for humor, but the technological capabilities here pose a legitimate risk to public figures, political movers and shakers, and virtually anyone else who wants to preserve his or her dignity and reputation.

"The idea that someone could put another person's face on an individual's body, that would be like a homerun for anyone who wants to interfere in a political process," Virginia Senator Mark Warner is quoted by CBS News saying. "This is now going to be the new reality, surely by 2020, but potentially even as early as this year.”

Indeed, this kind of video manipulation may be a game-changer in the political landscape. If someone wanted to make up a video of a sitting public official making threats against a hostile foreign power, it’s no longer out of the question to do that.

CBS News reached out to derpfakes, who acknowledged that he could see how it has a potential to be misused.

"People will have to adapt as the tech is here to stay," he stated.

Hany Farid, who runs a lab at Dartmouth College aimed at exposing fake videos, told CBS news correspondent Tony Dokoupil that we’re not anywhere near prepared for this kind of problem.

“We are absolutely not ready for this. We are absolutely not ready for it. On so many different levels, we're not ready for it."

One of the components that most concerns Farid is an adobe program that can create audio from written text. CBS reports:

Adobe calls this an "early-stage research project." While the company acknowledges the potential for "objectionable use," it believes "the positive impact of technology will always overshadow the negative." All these methods have legitimate uses in digital video and design.

It will likely take quite some time to catch up with the technology behind such fake videos. Technology advances at such a rapid pace these days that it is nearly impossible for everyone to keep up with it.

But with something of this sort now coming out, there’s even more reason to thoroughly scrutinize what we see online. "Fake news" is not going away any time soon.

How do you prepare for something this potentially problematic? Share your thoughts with us below.