Deep Fakes and the Infocalypse review by Duffy The Writer

“Share if you agree!”

Ever shared or reposted a meme like this? There’s a good chance you’re being manipulated with a fake image.

If you have Facebook, read on……..

Nina Schick is a political commentator, advisor and public speaker, specialising in how technology is reshaping politics in the 21st century. Most recently, her work has seen her advising on the fallout generated from Russian election interference in the US (and around the world) since 2016. Nina has also advised global leaders including Emmanuel Macron, Joe Biden and Anders Fogh Rasmussen (the former Secretary-General of NATO).

Nina’s book, Deep Fakes and the Infocalypse (Out August 11), draws on the story of an Australian, Noelle Martin, who found that her image and identity were being used in thousands of fake-porn videos.  She was just a normal girl, a student, 17 years old.  The case eventually changed the law in Australia in 2019, criminalising non-consensual distribution of intimate images. 

Nina Schick can reveal shocking examples of Deep Fakery and explains the dangerous political consequences of the Infocalypse, both in terms of national security and what it means for public trust in politics. She also unveils what it means for us as individuals, how Deep Fakes will be used to intimidate and to silence, for revenge and fraud, and how unprepared governments and tech companies are. Too often we build the cool technology and ignore what bad guys can do with it before we start playing catch-up. But when it comes to Deep Fakes, we urgently need to be on the front foot.

Duffy’s Thoughts on Deep Fakes and the Infocalypse

Well, this is one timely and unsettling read. I dived into a good book to escape the news and posturing of arrogant and unhinged world leaders and I jumped from the frying pan right into the fire!

I have friends and family members that post images which are passively racist, sexist and political. I roll my eyes, and move on, baffled that people believe these badly edited and photoshopped images. I think no more about them.

The Obama not Obama video clip

However, Deep Fakes tells me that I should be worried about them and people shouldn’t be blindly clicking and sharing. We should think twice before flooding our timelines with quotes and images from random Facebook groups with no validation or evidence of truth.

All because it’s on Facebook, it really doesn’t make it true.

But, what if it’s a video? AI’s and apps can now seamlessly add a celebrity or politicians face and edit to perfection. Sharper than some Hollywood Studios. Us, as humans naturally lean to believing a video we see, even if the bottom right hand corner shows the handle of a parody account or troll.

Who are the macdaddy’s of deep fakes? The Russians seem to have us over a barrel. Manipulating Americans through grand and complex social media attacks, these guys play with unsuspecting Facebook users like a man with a puppy. From upending elections to flooding news agencies with reports to deflecting responsibility for the attack on MH17. Nothing is off-limits.

[It] is a slow process which we call either ideological subversion or ‘active measures’. [….] What it basically means is to change the perception of reality of every American to such an extent that despite the abundance of information, no-one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their families, their community and their country.

Yuri Bezmenov – a high-ranking KGB defector

Let’s not forget President Trump. A prolific Tweeter punching out batshit crazy, emotional and wholly incorrect tweets all day every day. According to the Washington Post, Trump had made over 18,000 false and misleading claims in the three years leading up to January 2020. Fifteen false claims a day, but once it’s out there, it’s viral. Why would the majority of Americans buy into this? The truth is, most know that he lies, but the consensus is that everyone lies and Trump may lie but he’s working for them.

Twitter – The perfect platform for world leaders to threaten each other

Joined a Facebook Group lately which has sprung up in your timeline based on what you’ve been sharing? Have you checked the administrator of the account? Looked at the members? Or, just blindly clicked ‘like’ because it must be a legit group with 15,000 followers? Think carefully and double-check, because it could well be someone in Kenya employed to push an agenda, and you are helping that agenda without full knowledge of the impact and implications.

The purpose? To divide, cause infighting and destabilise governments, voters and economies. On a more personal level, deep fakes can ruin careers and cause deep upset and trauma. You don’t even need to be an expert. There are apps and chat rooms if you search hard enough that will do all the dirty work for you.

Deep Fakes and the Infocalypse is an eye-opening account of the dark side of the web which I’m very glad to know, but almost wish I didn’t.

Go and check your socials right now and think twice before you share that “I bet no-one will share this” meme.

Deep Fakes and the Infocalypse published by Hachette. Click the image or head to your favourite bookstore for your copy today.

Intrigued by the dark side of the web? You may enjoy some more books about cybercrime.