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Police warn against being duped by deepfakes


Police on Friday warned the public that deepfake scams were becoming more common and to be aware.

According to the definition, deepfakes are images or videos “that have been digitally manipulated to replace one person’s likeness convincingly with that of another”.

“Deepfakes leverage powerful techniques from machine learning and artificial intelligence to manipulate or generate visual and audio content that can more easily deceive.”

Police said there has recently been an increase in the Deepfake phenomenon, where social media ads feature journalists, newscasters or other broadcasters promoting various pharmaceuticals and urging the public to buy them.

“This phenomenon is of great concern to the entire European Union and the public is asked to be particularly careful not to respond to such advertisements and to consult their personal physician for any medicinal products,” police said.

In the first-ever report on the issue last year, Europol said that today threat actors are using disinformation campaigns and deepfake content to misinform the public about events, to influence politics and elections, to contribute to fraud, and to manipulate shareholders in a corporate context. “Many organisations have now begun to see deepfakes as an even bigger potential risk than identity theft (for which deepfakes can also be used), especially now that most interactions have moved online,” the report said.

“Deepfake technology can produce content that convincingly shows people saying or doing things they never did or create personas that never existed in the first place.”

Despite their increasing prevalence at the time, research in 2019 showed almost 72 per cent of people in a UK survey to be unaware of deepfakes and their impact.

This, Europol said, was particularly worrying as people might be unable to identify deepfakes such as videos, photos, or audios since they are not aware of the existence of such virtual forgeries or how they work.

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