Saturday, 22 Jun 2024

Sharing Photos of Your Kids? Maybe Not After You Watch This Deepfake Ad

identity theft pictures

A new AI-generated video ad campaign is taking social media by storm, amassing millions of views. However, it may also make parents think twice about what information they share publicly about their children. The Deutsche Telekom video uses the latest artificial intelligence technology to virtually age a 9-year-old girl named Ella, played by an actor. The purpose is to illustrate how a child’s digital footprint can potentially be misused, causing significant harm to their lives.

The Dangers of Oversharing

“I know for you these pictures are just memories, but for others they are data,” says the AI-generated Ella, addressing the couple playing her parents in a staged social experiment. “And for me, maybe the beginning of a horrible future.” Ella’s parents, also played by actors, are described as often sharing carefree moments from her life online, unaware of the potential harm it could cause her in the future.

While the video itself is fake, experts agree that its cautionary message is very real. Dr. Rebecca Portnoff, the director of data science at Thorn, a nonprofit fighting the spread of child sexual abuse online, explains, “Once an image is shared online, it can be hard to control where it ends up.” This campaign documents the potential dangers of oversharing children’s data, including online bullying, identity theft, and the creation of child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

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Exacerbated Risks with AI

The risks associated with oversharing have been well-documented in the past, but the increasing rise and accessibility of AI exacerbate these dangers. Criminals have more content to work with, thanks to troves of publicly available data and the power of AI. “Sharenting,” a term used to describe parents sharing content about their children online, has become an easy and accessible way for parents to connect with each other. However, experts at Boston Children’s Digital Wellness Lab warn that by 2030, 7.4 million incidents of identity fraud per year could be linked to parents oversharing personal information online, according to a Barclays Bank estimate.

AI and the Creation of Replica Content

The Deutsche Telekom campaign demonstrates how generative AI technology can create believable replicas of a child’s likeness, from voice to figure. The campaign also highlights how AI algorithms can automatically identify and collect images of children, which can then be used to create profiles for advertising purposes or even produce pornographic content.

According to experts like Dr. Portnoff, AI makes it easier for predators to create realistic material from publicly available images or to generate entirely new material. However, organizations like Thorn have developed machine learning algorithms to build tools that detect, remove, and report CSAM.

Striking a Balance

“As the world of social media continues to evolve, parents can strive to strike a balance between connecting with friends and family and respecting kids as individuals who will have to deal with the consequences of a life lived online,” urge the experts at Boston Children’s Digital Wellness Lab.

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To strike that balance, experts suggest sharing photos and content only in private albums with family and friends, rather than publicly. This approach safeguards your child’s privacy and minimizes risks. Dr. Portnoff also offers a few suggestions on how families can educate kids about online safety. She advises parents to have open and judgment-free conversations about online safety, understand the apps and social networks their child uses, and utilize available privacy controls. It’s crucial to educate children about online safety, emphasizing the importance of avoiding sharing personal details and the permanence of what’s shared online.

In conclusion, the Deutsche Telekom deepfake ad campaign serves as a wake-up call for parents to reconsider what they share about their children online. By being mindful of the potential risks and taking steps to protect their children’s privacy, parents can ensure a safer online environment for their families.