‘Deepfake’ is the deeply fake 'fake news’ word to watch in 2020
After Donald Trump won the US presidency, the term 'fake news’ was suddenly everywhere. It initially referred to stories with no base in reality placed on fake news websites, designed to make money from sensationalised clicks, but its meaning quickly expanded.
These days 'fake news’ can mean anything from actual hoaxes, to true stories a politician wishes to discredit, to a legitimate story with an error in it, to pretty much anything someone believes not to be true regardless of whether it is or not.
And so it will likely be with 'deepfake’ in the 2020 election cycle. The word technically refers to computer-generated video or audio clips designed to make it seem like a real-life person is doing something they didn’t. But, like 'fake news,’ it has all the right factors to become a word that can mean anything to anyone…
- it signifies a growing sense of public alarm over a form of misinformation that could harm society
- there’s not enough widespread awareness of its true definition
- it’s exciting for journalists to follow as an emerging 'weapon’ in the 'culture war’
All this makes it likely that 'deepfake’ will become trendy shorthand for all manner of multimedia fakery over the next year and a half. We’ve already seen how a video of Nancy Pelosi slowed down to appear drunk was often referred to a deepfake, even though it was simply subject to straightforward editing techniques.
Sure, there will be some deepfakes that will cause issues for journalists and politicians on the campaign trail, but look out for that word being widely overused and not properly understood.