FreeTech – the Axel Springer Academy of Journalism and Technology – has published a new report into deepfakes, taking as its central premise the question of ‘What happens when videos lie?’ Over the course of eight weeks, the team of journalism and tech students themselves attempted to create deepfake videos of politicians Dorothee Bär (CSU), Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP) and Konstantin von Notz (Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), which were eventually shown to the individuals themselves.
“They could both ruin my existence and massively weaken my position in the party,” said Wolfgang Kubicki in relation to deepfake videos. The documentary produced by the Academy team also provides insights into how deepfakes are created, what legal frameworks exist today, and what moral problems this technology poses for a society.
“Deepfakes are already used in various ways. But especially in a super-election year like this, it is important to take a close look at the potential dangers,” says Project Leader, Kristin Schulze, who is Head of Academic Affairs at FreeTech. “Journalism gains even more importance through them: Because in order to combat fake news and deepfakes, carefully researched content as well as the checking and categorization of journalistic sources will become even more important.”
The project at large is designed to emphasise the increasingly symbiotic link between journalism and technology, and how experts in each area can compliment one another. On the website designed by the FreeTech Academy students, leading experts such as Deepfake Specialist, Hao Li, and Technology Philosopher, Mark Coeckelbergh, provide further insights into the issues.
Examining deepfakes specifically, the study looks at the effects of manipulated images on the public, and how society changes when it can no longer believe what it sees. It is the first interdisciplinary final project of the FreeTech Academy graduate and is also available as a podcast on all major social platforms.