During quarantine, I finally caught up on the final season of Madam Secretary, one of my favorite shows. One episode featured a deepfake video that appeared to show the President speaking disparaging remarks about another world leader. I’d never heard of deepfake videos, but over the last few weeks have read and learned more about them.
Deepfake videos use manipulation algorithms to edit videos so convincingly that they appear legitimate. The videos may put words in someone’s mouth or show them in a situation or place they never were. As the 2020 election looms, politician in particular are aware and concerned about the emergence of deep fake videos. But they aren’t the only ones who should be concerned.
First the Dangers of Deep Fake Videos
Videos and images of business leaders and CEOs along with politicians saying or doing offensive things years ago have surfaced to end careers and derail companies. Imagine if a competitor or disgruntled employee produced a video that showed your CEO saying something disparaging about customers or vendors. Imagine that video was so convincing your customers and vendors couldn’t tell it was fake.
The video of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, talking about his power to control millions of users’ data had the potential to be very damaging to his reputation, as did the video of Nancy Pelosi slurring her words. Both videos had tell-tale signs they were fake, but as technology progresses, it will be harder and harder to distinguish between real and fake videos.
Your company relies on you to create marketing strategies, but also to create crisis communications plans. Part of that plan should now involve how to handle deepfake videos related to your company. Some possibilities include:
- Time stamping videos
- Using a watermark on videos
- Tracking videos with blockchain technology so you know when the video has been manipulated and where it’s showing up
- Keeping original video recordings as proof of what actually happened
In addition to being able to prove a video is fake, your company should have a plan for requesting removal of the video from social media platforms. Each platform has its own rules about when it will remove a video. Facebook did not remove either the deepfake video of their own Mark Zuckerberg or of House Leader Nancy Pelosi. Know what you can legitimately expect social platforms to do in response to deepfake videos.
In a bit of good news, we aren’t fighting deepfake videos alone. Last year Google released 3,000 deepfake videos in an effort to teach facial recognition software how to spot deepfake videos.
Second the Possibilities
While the danger to leaders and politicians is real, the possibilities of deepfake videos for marketing are almost endless. The best known deepfake marketing campaign was compiled by Synthesia for Malaria No More and featured David Beckam speaking nine different languages. Beckam doesn’t speak all those languages, but the technology was so convincing it drew in viewers who heard this spokesperson speak directly to them in their own language.
Similarly deepfake technology could allow actors in your digital marketing videos to speak the name of the person watching or speak in their native language. It may also allow companies to reuse previous videos to promote new products or services.
Deepfake videos will erode consumer confidence in your company if you aren’t upfront about use of the technology. Be transparent about your use of AI and deepfake video technology to keep your consumers informed. And always get permission from the people in your videos to use their likeness. While it will be much easier to fake an endorsement of a celebrity, you will be found out and suffer not only in the court of public opinion but in the justice court as well.
What are the best uses of deepfake marketing videos you’ve seen? Or what’s your best idea for using deepfake videos in your next campaign?