Industry Insights

Jun 13, 2024

Deepfake Detection in the Newsroom

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Deepfakes continue to test the ability of newsrooms to fact-check the media used in their reporting. In a crucial election year and among multiple high-stakes conflicts fueling global tensions, journalists must parse through sophisticated (and often state-sponsored) disinformation campaigns that deploy deepfakes to sow chaos, manipulate public opinion, and interfere with elections. 

The deepfake video of State Department spokesman Matthew Miller made to appear as saying that a Russian city is a legitimate target for bombing is only the most recent example. But state-sponsored deepfake attacks aren’t the only concern, as any user with no technological know-how can use off-the-shelf tools to fuel fake news with the help of AI-generated video, audio, text, or image.

The volume and speed at which AI generates and distributes deepfakes can be used to exploit gaps in the fact-checking process. Because traditional fact-checking methods require time-consuming manual research and verification, deepfake content spreads widely before it can be analyzed and debunked. The effort to keep up with the speed of the news cycle and the sheer amount of content can create a pressure-cooker situation in which fact-checkers must rush their work or lose the story to competing outlets.

Managing Potential Reputational Harms

With billions of dollars being poured into the development of AI, tools that generate deepfakes become more capable every day, learning to produce media that will appear flawless to the human senses. In contrast, newsrooms are forced to make hard staffing choices with shrinking budgets. Deepfakes are poised to overwhelm fact-checkers if newsrooms don’t adopt tools to bridge this growing gap. Should a news organization report a deepfake as authentic only once, the damage to their reputation and integrity could be irreversible. The stakes are high as truth skepticism erodes people’s willingness to trust news organizations at all, making the task of accurate, comprehensive debunking even more crucial.

To keep up with the onslaught of deepfakes and AI-manipulated content, newsrooms can leverage detection technology to empower their fact-checkers. By integrating deepfake detection into their workflows, media platforms can scan and analyze all content used in reporting to immediately identify and label deepfakes and AI-generated content at scale. Reporters and editors can thus continue to perform the integral role of debunking fake content before it is widely accepted by the public, and ensure that their reporting isn’t sourced from or supported by media that has been manipulated. 

Deepfake detection tools like Reality Defender generate detailed reports that define the exact involvement of generative AI within the scanned media, providing evidence that can then be shared with the public as proof of integrity behind the analysis. Utilizing AI-fueled detection to catch AI empowers newsrooms to keep up with complex disinformation campaigns that utilize voice cloning, synthesized video, and chatbot-generated text in synchrony with networks of fake news websites and social media bots, campaigns that are designed to overwhelm the limited human resources of media organizations with sheer volume and the exploitation of algorithms. 

A Challenge in Reporting

Media organizations and reporters have become prime targets for deepfake attacks. Considering the political polarization, institutional challenges, and destabilized media landscape that define this contentious election year, the pressure on newsrooms to get things right is at an all-time high. Without detection measures in place, media platforms risk being overrun with synthesized content and accidentally boosting deepfake disinformation, or basing their reporting on AI-generated content or sources.

AI-generated forgeries of Presidential candidates, press briefings, and world-famous newscasters will continue to traverse digital spaces and present events that never happened as factual. More than ever, newsrooms will carry the burden of distinguishing fact from fiction, and their mission to inform the public requires the adoption of powerful detection measures to limit the influence of deepfakes. The rigorous standard for journalistic fact-checking is too important to be discredited by convincing AI forgeries. 

At Reality Defender, we will continue to support our media clients and their audiences by providing robust protection measures against all AI-fueled deception.

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