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What is a deepfake?

What is a deepfake?

What is a 'Deepfake'? 

A deepfake is an image where the face or voice is changed to replace the likeness of one person with another. Deepfake imagery is created using AI technology to import an image of a face, or the sound of a voice, onto someone else’s body, essentially swapping their faces or voices. 

In this context, deepfakes can be made to give the illusion that the person photographed is either nude, semi-nude, or taking part in a sexual act. Although it is not their sexual body parts displayed, the consequences of having a deepfake shared can be just as distressing. People who do not know this person intimately such as their friends, family or colleagues, have no reason to believe the image is not real.  

Is this against the law? 

In the UK, it is a crime to share a private sexual image or video without consent and with the intention of causing distress. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland deepfakes are not defined as ‘sexual’ images in law as they do not display the person’s sexual body parts. However, in Scotland, deepfake images are included under the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act 2016

Although deepfake imagery is not against the law across the whole of the UK, it may be that threatening to share or sharing this content constitutes a different form of abuse which may be a crime. Deepfake pornography is usually created with the intention to humiliate, blackmail or sexually objectify that person. If this is the case, we always encourage reporting to the police. Before making a report, we advise taking screenshots of the deepfake images that have been created and collecting the URL link (website address) and times and dates of when the content was posted. 

What can you do if a deepfake of you has been shared? 

If you have had a deepfake image or video shared publicly online without your consent, you may be able to report this for removal. Depending on the circumstances of what has happened, the Revenge Porn Helpline may be able to assist with this or provide advice on what to do next. 

Reporting to adult sites 

Because deepfake imagery is not illegal everywhere, some websites do allow this content to be created and shared. We suggest checking the terms of the site and if they do not allow deepfakes, you can report to them directly. You can read more about DIY reporting on our website here

If you are unable to find a reporting route or the website does not respond, then you can find the hosting provider and contact them instead. Please remember this process can take time. Try to allow websites adequate time to carry out your request before escalating to hosts. 

Reporting to social media 

Most social media platforms do not allow any nude content on their sites, this includes deepfake pornography. Before making a report, it is useful to understand the platforms Community Guidelines to support your case. Our sister service, Report Harmful Content can assist with reporting content considered legal but harmful. You can find more information on how to report pornographic content on the RHC website here. 

Reach out for support 

We understand how distressing this type of online abuse can be. It is important that those affected reach out for support from those around them. There are also organisations that can provide emotional support. If you would like to speak to someone about how you are feeling you can find more support services on our website here. 

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