The development of technology has undeniably brought humanity many benefits, but also created some pretty scary realities. While face-swap filters on Snapchat and other software to digitally alter bodies have been around for a while, last year the Internet blew up with the news that Artificial Intelligence has made these processes much quicker and easier.
What resulted is an increase in ‘deep fakes,’ which are morphed, digitally-altered images of a person on pornographic content without their consent. While this particular category is notorious for using images of famous celebrities like Kim Kardashian, it seems that morphing has expanded to unassuming, random targets on the Internet - like in the case of Rahul, a 23-year-old working professional.
Rahul has always been conscious of cybersecurity; he periodically checks whether his information is safe or not. Part of this process involves him reverse-searching images of himself and his account names on Google. One day, he came across pornographic content with his face morphed onto it. Naturally, he was horrified.
“The source where I found it also seemed to contain material with numerous other men and women, some morphed and the others recorded without consent. It looked like it had been on the site for 2-3 months now. It was frustrating because I couldn’t immediately see a way where I could contact the account and ask them to take it down. Cyber law is quite weak so I didn’t feel like I could legally report it as well,” he tells us.
The incident had serious effects on his emotional and mental health. “I was clueless about what to do,” he says. “I felt that now that it’s on the Internet, there’s nothing I can do about it and it’ll be on there permanently. It also took me back to some disturbing memories from my childhood that involved an abuse of consent. There is also this permanent underlying fear, that in the future, someone is going to leak or bring attention to it. No matter what I do in life, it’s always going to be there.”
After almost an hour and a half of searching, he found a way to contact the people who ran that particular portal and asked them to take it down. A few days later, the particular link ceased to exist, but this didn’t assure him that the video wouldn’t be available on other websites. Sure enough, two months ago he found the clips on other forums, as he had suspected. Though he has found a way to move past it himself, he cautions others against the same fate: “check what’s out there, search your images and information every week and be vigilant.”
Rahul isn’t the only victim. In September of this year, a BJP leader Kailash Muraka was caught by the CBI for creating morphed videos of Chhattisgarh’s Public Works Department Minister Rajesh Munat, a Congress party member. A report by the Cyber and Law Foundation in 2016 states that 27% of people aged between 13 and 45 have been victims to revenge or morph porn. Another report believes that at least 40% of women on the Internet have been blackmailed with morphed images. With cases such as this on the rise, it’s time we become cognisant of what we share on the Internet and be mindful of our own cyber safety.
Feature Image Courtesy: Nucuta.com
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