Anticipating and Addressing the Ethical Implications of Deepfakes in the Context of Elections
New Media & Society
27 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2019 Last revised: 23 Apr 2020
Date Written: October 23, 2019
New media synthesis technologies are rapidly advancing and becoming more accessible, allowing users to make video and audio clips (i.e. deepfakes) of individuals doing and saying things they never did or said. Deepfakes have significant implications for the integrity of many social domains including that of elections. Focusing on the 2020 U.S. presidential election and using an anticipatory approach, this paper examines the ethical issues raised by deepfakes and discusses strategies for addressing these issues. Eight hypothetical scenarios are developed and used as the basis for this analysis, which identifies harms to voters who view deepfakes, candidates and campaigns that are the subjects of deepfakes, and threats to electoral integrity. Four potential forms of intervention are discussed with respect to multi-stakeholder responsibility for addressing harms, including education and media literacy, subject defense, verification, and publicity moderation.
Keywords: deepfakes, synthetic media, electoral integrity, anticipatory ethics, technology ethics
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