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Disinformation has spread rapidly through social media and news sites, biasing our judgements of individuals and groups. “Deepfakes”, a new type of AI-generated media, represent a powerful tool for spreading disinformation online. Although they may appear genuine, Deepfakes are hyper-realistic fabrications that enable one to digitally control another person’s appearance and actions. In a recent paper (N = 2558) we examined the psychological impact of Deepfakes on viewers. Participants were exposed to genuine or Deepfaked online content, after which their (implicit) attitudes and behavioral intentions were measured. We found that Deepfakes are highly effectively in manipulating public perceptions, and do so in ways that are similar to genuine content. Many people are unaware that Deepfaking is possible, find it difficult to detect when they are being exposed to it, and neither awareness nor detection serves to protect them from its influence. 

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Hughes, S., Fried, O, Ferguson, M., Hughes, C., Hughes, R., Yao, X., & Hussey, I. (under review). Deepfaked Online Content is Highly Effective in Manipulating People’s Attitudes and Intentions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

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