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Is AI-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence the Next Pandemic?

May 06, 2024

Rangita de Silva de Alwis
Rangita de Silva de Alwis

The rise of deep fakes and other AI-generated misinformation presents a direct threat to women’s freedom, writes Rangita de Silva de Alwis.

At The Regulatory Review, Rangita de Silva de Alwis, Senior Adjunct Professor of Global Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, explores the connections between anti-feminism, democratic backsliding, and digital-authoritarianism in the contest of deep fakes and other artificial intelligence-generated misinformation.

The piece is co-written by Elodie Vialle, Senior Advisor to PEN America.

De Silva de Alwis is elected expert on the treaty body to the UN Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

From The Regulatory Review:

The rise of gender-based online violence amounts to a direct attack on women’s freedom of expression around the world, especially the freedom of women journalists and human rights defenders. The consequences? They include de-platforming women’s voices, undermining equal access to the digital public space, and creating a chilling effect on democratic deliberations with disproportionate impact on women journalists and women human rights defenders.

This year, with over 64 elections globally, it has never been so easy to produce false videos, audio, and text through content that deep-learning AI has generated and synthesized. During the last Slovak parliamentary election campaign, for example, deepfakes were used for the first time, spreading a fake video featuring journalist Monika Tódová and party chairman Michal Šimečka. Despite being fabricated, the video still reached thousands of social media users just two days before the election. This use of artificial intelligence technology to discredit a journalist and undermine election integrity—the first such instance in the European Union—offered a worrying example of the future use of so-called deepfakes.

If deepfakes pose a direct threat to information integrity, they also undermine women’s voices. The virality of deepfake images of Taylor Swift, seen over 45 million times on social media last January, revealed the potentially huge impact of new technology on women’s online safety and integrity. One study has found that 98 percent of deepfake videos online are pornographic and that 99 percent of those targeted are women or girls.

Read the full piece at The Regulatory Review.