Common Sense: Are Deepfake Videos a Threat to Democracy?

Every day, teens engage with countless images and videos that have been edited or digitally altered. From simple Snapchat filters to short, lighthearted, or ironic TikTok videos, it’s clear that young people are pretty savvy when it comes to consuming — and creating — manipulated media. And in a lot of ways, seeing altered media is just part of being online today.

But are your students aware of — or have they thought deeply about — disinformation online, including the phenomenon of deepfake videos? Known more formally as a type of “synthetic media,” these altered videos usually show real people doing and saying things they never actually did or said. The thing that makes deepfakes different is that they’re created almost entirely with artificial intelligence, or “AI.” This technology is advancing quickly, and some experts believe that some of these fakes will soon be nearly imperceptible to the human eye.