Deepfakes and Cheap Fakes 

The Landscape: Deepfakes and cheap fakes are manipulated audio or video frequently aimed at deceiving an online audience. Deepfakes require greater technical sophistication and machine learning to create or combine faces and bodies. Cheap fakes, on the other hand, can be created using inexpensive or easily available programs, or simply by mislabeling the dates or locations of videos to create a false context. 

While deepfakes and cheap fakes can be used transparently as creative expressions to entertain or shed light on a social issue, problems arise when they are used to deceive the public for political or commercial gain. As deepfakes and cheap fakes often go viral, they accelerate the spread of disinformation across social media platforms and can create a systemic public distrust of traditional news sources. Although many platforms have policies in place to counter deceptive fake media, they are often inconsistent, insufficient, and unenforced. 

Moving Forward

To prevent deepfakes and cheap fakes from disrupting and undermining the democratic process, platforms should ban any manipulated audiovisuals aimed at deceiving users or inciting violence, regardless of the technology used to produce the content. At the same time, Congress should enact legislation that requires platforms to flag all suspected deepfakes and cheap fakes, support research into detection technology, and promote public-private cooperation in this area.

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