Google downgrades porn deepfakes, but victims want them removed from the search engine


Mélina LOUPIA

May 15, 2024 at 6:57 p.m.

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Victims of pornographic deepfakes want their removal from Google - © Jeramey Lende / Shutterstock.com

Victims of pornographic deepfakes want their removal from Google – © Jeramey Lende / Shutterstock.com

Google has announced that it will downgrade websites hosting deepfake porn in its search results. But for victims of this fake, explicit AI-generated content, this measure doesn’t go far enough to protect them.

The spread of pornographic deepfake videos on the Internet has become a real scourge in recent years. These so-called “synthetic” contents, created using artificial intelligence, make it possible to digitally superimpose the face of a person on that of a porn actor, without their consent. Many personalities like Taylor Swift, but also ordinary people, have been victims of this form of online harassment and defamation.

Faced with the scale of the problem, Google, which said it was overwhelmed by this phenomenon in 2023, decided to act by lowering the ranking of websites hosting these pornographic deepfakes in its search results. But for the victims, this decision does not go far enough. They denounce the laborious nature of current content removal procedures and demand stricter measures from the big players at GAFAM, but from Google in particular. After deciding to remove advertisements for pornographic content generated by AI at the beginning of May 2024, will the search engine behemoth do the same with said content?

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Declassification, a measure at a minimum for Google

In an article published last week, the site Ars Technica revealed that Google had started to downgrade porn sites offering deepfakes in its search engine results. This decision follows numerous pressure from associations campaigning against the dissemination of this false explicit content without the consent of the people represented.

Concretely, Google has not chosen to completely ban this type of content on its engine. Deepfake porn sites will not be completely invisible either, but simply relegated to the last pages of search results, rarely consulted by users. A Google spokesperson explained this choice by the desire to avoid censorship while fighting against this content “ misleading and harmful “.

The Mountain View firm thus seems to want to find a delicate balance between freedom of expression online and the protection of privacy. But by choosing to simply downgrade rather than remove, Google leaves the door open to these controversial practices. A decision that does not fully convince victims of deepfakes porn.

AI contributes to the extent of the scourge of pornographic deepfakes - © metamorworks / Shutterstock

AI contributes to the extent of the scourge of pornographic deepfakes – © metamorworks / Shutterstock

For victims, decommissioning is not a lasting solution

In an article from Bloomberg, several people who had their image usurped in porn deepfakes denounced the inadequacy of the measure taken by Google. According to them, simply downgrading this content in search results will not prevent it from continuing to spread across the web and platforms.

As long as these videos remain online somewhere, they will continue to haunt me and cause me immense psychological pain », Testifies a young woman of 25, victim of one of these pornographic deepfakes representing her in explicit sexual acts.

Beyond their fears of seeing this false content continue to spread, victims above all denounce the weight and considerable delays represented by the current procedures for requesting the deletion of these videos. “ We are asked to identify and report each instance of these deepfakes one by one on all the sites and platforms hosting them, it’s a never-ending obstacle course », deplores another complainant.

Beyond a simple downgrade, the pure and simple deletion of this illegal content seems the only definitive solution for the victims. Is a complex ethical and legal debate looming on this sensitive subject?

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Source : Ars Technica, Bloomberg (in English, paid access)

Mélina LOUPIA

Mélina LOUPIA

Ex-corporate journalist, the world of the web, networks, connected machines and everything that is written on the Internet whets my appetite. From the latest TikTok trend to the most liked reels, I come from...

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Ex-corporate journalist, the world of the web, networks, connected machines and everything that is written on the Internet whets my appetite. From the latest TikTok trend to the most liked reels, I come from the Facebook generation that still fascinates the internal war between Mac and PC. As a wise woman, the Internet, its tools, practices and regulation are among my favorite hobbies (that, lineart, knitting and bad jokes). My motto: to try it is to adopt it, but in complete safety.

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