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Taylor Swift Deepfakes Prompt Congress Support for Urgent Legislation

In a unison call, the US politicians have supported enacting legislation that criminalizes deepfake image creations. The call arose from the explicit faked images portraying Taylor Swift, attracting millions of online viewers. 

The US Congress members responded to the images circulated on social media platforms, predominantly Telegram and X (formerly Twitter). The BBC News publication over the weekend captured US Representative Joe Morelle’s statement lashing out the deepfakes as appalling. 

Elon Musk-owned X platform revealed in a statement a move to actively remove the images and initiate appropriate actions against accounts participating in spreading the deepfakes. 

Elon Musk’s X Confirms Removing Swift Deepfakes Images

X’s statement assured that it was closely monitoring the situation to guarantee immediate response to further violations, and such content was swiftly eradicated. 

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The BBC News publication noted that while multiple images were removed at press time, a single photo of Swift received 47 million views before its removal. The publication pointed out that the terms Taylor Swift AI and Taylor AI no longer returned results from searches. 

Deepfakes have courted controversy, given the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in making videos of an individual by manipulating the body and face. The BBC News cites a 2023 study that illustrated a 550% rise in the generation of doctored images since 2019 owing to the emergence of AI. 

The 2023 study attributed the rise of deepfakes to the emergence of generative AI and the absence of federal laws prohibiting the sharing or creation of deepfake images. Nonetheless, states have initiated moves to address the issue and the existing regulatory gap laid bare by the Taylor Swift deepfakes.  

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Texas leads New York, Virginia, and Minnesota in criminalizing the nonconsensual deepfake pornography in a similar move to Hawaii and Georgia. Besides, California and Illinois states empower victims of deepfake pornography to sue the creators by levelling defamation charges. 

Unlike in the United States, UK lawmakers were swift to tackle the deepfake issue by enacting the Online Safety Act (2023) that criminalizes deepfake pornography. 

Democratic Representative Morelle challenged the lawmakers to resolve the deepfakes challenge urgently. The Congressman had in 2023 tabled the Preventing deepfakes of Intimate Images Act to criminalize sharing deepfake pornography and explicit images without the individual’s consent. 

Morelle sympathized with the victim, indicating that the circulation of such images and videos is capable of causing irrevocable harm to one’s emotional, reputational and financial well-being. The US politician admitted that women unfortunately suffer a disproportionate impact.

Women Targeted by Deepfakes

The Taylor Swift incident prompted a reflection of the pornography challenge that led the Sunday, January 28 publication by BBC News to label it an unresolved challenge. The article indicated that women constitute the 99% target in explicit content, citing the State of deepfakes report published in 2023. 

Democratic Representative Yvette Clarke lamented the Taylor Swift deepfakes as nothing new in a post on X platform. She added that deepfake technology has, for years, targeted women. The situation has worsened following the advancements in AI to make the process cheaper and easier. 

Republican Congressman Tom Kean Jr echoed the sentiments of colleagues that AI technology was advancing faster than adopting necessary guardrails. He indicated that approval of his AI Labeling Act would realize a critical milestone in fighting deepfakes. 

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Kean Jr urged urgent action to establish the necessary safeguards to help combat the alarming trend irrespective of whether the victim is a celebrity such as Taylor Swift or any young person across the US. 

Swift has yet to offer a public statement regarding the incident. However, the Daily Mail indicated on Thursday, January 25 publication, that her team has yet to rule out legal action against the site behind publishing the AI-generated images. 

Worries against AI-generated content have topped the agenda of most debates across the globe. Besides the Swift incident, the threats posed by Deepfake emerged in a falsified robocall made by US President Joe Biden. It sparked calls for urgent investigation.  


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Stephen Causby

Stephen Causby is an experienced crypto journalist who writes for Tokenhell. He is passionate for coverage in crypto news, blockchain, DeFi, and NFT.

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