Scarlett Johansson Says It’s “Useless” Fighting Back Against Deepfake Porn Videos Using Her Face
A new level of tech terror for your day.
The internet is a terrifying place. We are still slowly learning rules and decorum for the instant access and technology we have—some more slowly than others. With new technology, people now have the ability to create great content or really, really awful stuff. One such tech is the AI algorithm that scans a celebrity’s face and uploads it to existing video content, used to make videos called “Deepfakes.”
Some of these videos are memes, such as putting Nicholas Cage into any movie. Others are far nastier.
One such genre of videos is uploading celebrity faces onto porn films, including stars such as Scarlett Johansson. These videos can garner millions of views, but Johansson isn’t about to take to the courts to try to get them shut down. The actress talked to the Washington Post about her experiences, saying,
“Clearly this doesn’t affect me as much because people assume it’s not actually me in a porno, however demeaning it is. I think it’s a useless pursuit, legally, mostly because the internet is a vast wormhole of darkness that eats itself. There are far more disturbing things on the dark web than this, sadly. I think it’s up to an individual to fight for their own right to their image, claim damages, etc.
“Every country has their own legalese regarding the right to your own image, so while you may be able to take down sites in the U.S. that are using your face, the same rules might not apply in Germany. Even if you copyright pictures with your image that belong to you, the same copyright laws don’t apply overseas. I have sadly been down this road many, many times. The fact is that trying to protect yourself from the internet and its depravity is basically a lost cause, for the most part.”
Johansson became a symbol for the dangers of hacking when she, alongside many other celebrities, had their accounts hacked and their nude pictures leaked; the hacker was later sentenced to ten years in prison. She has been dealing with this for years now, and it must be incredibly painful to have her image twisted and used in this way after already dealing with such a vile breach of privacy.
It should go without saying to not digitally insert a woman’s face into a pornographic video without her consent, but here we are. The worst part is is that Johansson is right: There is no easy way to fight this legally. Johansson cannot get a cease and desist letter and have it honored, because she’s trapped in a legal limbo.
She concluded her comments by saying,
“The Internet is just another place where sex sells and vulnerable people are preyed upon. And any low level hacker can steal a password and steal and identity. It’s just a matter of time before any one person is targeted.
“Obviously, if a person has more resources, they may employ various forces to build a bigger wall around their digital identity. But nothing can stop someone from cutting and pasting my image or anyone else’s onto a different body and making it look as eerily realistic as desired. There are basically no rules on the internet because it is an abyss that remains virtually lawless, withstanding US policies which, again, only apply here.”
There is no easy answer to this problem. Johansson puts it best when she says that the internet is an abyss and virtually lawless, because that is most definitely the truth. There are no real rules and protections, and though there are some cases that have been successfully won against hackers, there is no way to really legislate deepfake videos. Things might get better eventually, but for now, things are just going to stay being pretty terrible.
(via The Washington Post, image: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)
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