Deepfake: A new formula for Phishing?

What is Deepfake?

How does it work?

Let’s say that you want to create a video of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” song, but PSYCH, it’s you performing in it & not Beyonce. This would imply that your face is the target while the original video is the latent space.



Aside from the obvious applications that the ones with vices are quick to jump at, you will be surprised at the applications of this technology. Following are just some of those:


Deepfakes can and have been used to generate incrementing material to blackmail a person. However, this comes right back at you. Guilty suspects may claim that the evidence has been falsified using the technology and can claim plausible deniability.


Misrepresentation of well-known politicians and public figures is something that has dated long back. Now, however, it’s harder than ever to distinguish the real Trump from the Fake.

  • In the 2020 Delhi Legislative Assembly election campaign, BJP distributed a Haryanvi version of speaker Manoj Tiwari, who in the original video spoke in English. Although the voiceover was done by someone else, AI was used to lip-sync the video and was pretty convincing. One party member stated it as a positive use of the technology. Click here to watch The Quint’s coverage of the incident. (I am neither an affiliate nor a promoter of any political party. I have made no political endorsements in this blog).
  • Bruno Sartori, a popular content maker has published numerous parodied videos of politicians such as Donald Trump & Jair Bolsonaro.
  • In 2018, Jordan Peele in collaboration with Buzzfeed created a video where Barack Obama is seen hurling slurs and vulgarities, at the same time pointing out that the real Obama would never say these things. This was to create awareness, informing the viewers of the potential pitfalls of the technology. Yes, Obama wasn’t exactly amused. Watch it here.
  • YouTube creators Ctrl-Shift Face used DeepFaceLab and StableVoices, both AI models trained on real speech and video samples to create a parody of Donald Trump in the popular show Better Call Saul. You can watch the video for yourself here.

Sock puppets

Imagine making a friend online, and gradually building a rapport with the person for an extended period. Everything about the person points towards them being real, Facebook, Instagram, Linked In, and all other conceivable social media sites, until one day you learn that the profile has been suspended because the person represented in the profiles does not exist. And I don’t mean a fake profile. The profile is not stolen or created using stolen images, just the person is imaginary.

Internet memes & social media

The most popular meme utilizing the technology is that of people singing to the chorus of a song from a popular video game series titled “Yakuza”. The original uploader of the meme, Dobbsyrules uses the song as a template to allow others to morph their faces and voices over it. I just hope he’d be as good at spelling characters from Harry Potter, as he is at singing.


The most noticeable instance where AI was used to create art is of Joseph Ayerle’s Un’emozione per sempre 2.0, which is based on a deep-faked version of 80’s movie star Ornella Muti, who travels in time from three decades back to 2018. MIT commented on this art as Creative Wisdom.


Deepfake has already established a place amongst the niche artists in the film industry, with Solo: A Star Wars Story using Harrison Ford’s young face onto Han Solo’s face, & for the acting of Princess Leia in Rogue One. Bet you didn’t know that Leia in Rogue One was fake.


In India

As of now, no law bans deepfakes in India. Some sections that come close to dealing with such issues are: Sections 67 & 67A of the IT Act, 2000 (punishment for publishing sexually explicit material in digital form) & Section 500 of IPC 1860 (punishment for defamation)

Around the World

In the USA, the FTC strictly enforces the truth in advertising law but has not taken many initiatives towards photo retouching or video doctoring. The UK is considering legislation where social media platforms could be fined for hosting doctored content with malicious intent. However, this is easier said than done. The pace at which technology is evolving is unmatched by the slow evolution of laws governing it.

How to spot Deepfakes

So now that you know that there may be a video of you circulating riding a horse buck naked, what can you do to identify such videos? Hopefully, the following pointers will help you in doing just that.

  • Lack of emotions
  • Awkward body or posture
  • Out of place facial expressions
  • Unnatural movement of eyes
  • Unnatural facial feature positions
  • Unreal teeth
  • Hashtag discrepancies
  • Lower FPS videos
  • Unnatural skin tones
  • Unreal hair




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