Excerpt: Last month, the tea party-affiliated political group FreedomWorks sought to drive social media users to a website peddling unsubstantiated fears of mail-in voting.
To lend an air of authenticity to its message, FreedomWorks posted a photograph of National Basketball Association superstar LeBron James. FreedomWorks included a misleading quote from James that suggested that when he condemned polling place closures as "systemic racism and oppression," he opposed mail-in voting.1
Before the page was shuttered, James took to Twitter to criticize the misappropriation of his image. "Nobody should be able to use my name (or anyone else['s] name) to lie and deceive about the election," he tweeted. Although he was "[n]ot sure what we can do legally," he was "definitely trying to figure it out!"2
James isn't the only celebrity plagued by the false use of his image. Deepfake pornography — when artificial intelligence is used to superimpose a nonconsenting celebrity's face onto the nude body of a pornographic performer — is becoming commonplace on mainstream, advertiser-supported websites.
According to one report, up to 1,000 sexually explicit deepfake videos are being added to pornographic websites every month.3 While many of those videos are today of famous actors, almost always women, the technology poses a threat to the privacy and dignity of anyone who has ever been photographed.