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THISAM Talks: "Fake News 2.0: From deepfakes to cheapfakes"

Dren Gerguri, Lecturer at the Department of Journalism of University of Prishtina “Ha-san Prishtina”, Kosovo, talked about "Fake News 2.0: From deepfakes to cheapfakes".

Key points by Ioanna Georgia Eskiadi 

The development of technology brings up new ways of disinformation and manipulation like the “Cheapfakes” which have resurfaced containing real information manipulated to hurt someone. Unlike deepfakes, in this form, there is no fake content because it is real information. Cheapfakes change the speed of images. No specialized skills are required to perform these manipulations, which makes this form of fake news, a serious media manipulation threat. This form of manipulation can be achieved by using some basic computer software, which enables interference in video, audio, or photos.

Cheapfakes are currently a subject of research and discuss since in contrast with deepfakes they have more wide attention due to the easily manipulated content. Online content is demonstrably being used for malign influence. People have more trust on images and videos that can be easily faked by anyone. Online manipulated content is increased especially during the pandemics and election campaigns periods. The most popular way of creating Cheapfakes is by recontextualizing them, especially the audiovisual content. Manipulation of video and images can be easily achieved through Machine Learning which leads to the creation of viral content spread through social media networks. Some characteristics of them are fake news 2.0, audiovisual manipulation and cheap software making Cheapfakes easier to be implemented in contrast with deepfakes which need paid software. Cheapfakes can be created by trimming a video.

Three main types of Cheapfakes are recontextualizing like the case of taking out of context a photo or image and mixing it in a new video. For example, a viral video from Kosovo with the “death” of former Prime Minster, Isa Mustafa. Such video can be edited with the simple video program, this video is cheap but easy to manipulate other. So, people easily continue to believe those people. Also, a video portraying Biden in the US Elections campaign 2020 was isolated in order to intervene in the response of the democratic party about the elections. This video was easily circulated succeeding a high reach in social media. Another type is slowing, for example the case of Nancy Pelosi by altering the reality through slowing down the footage. A deepfake is harder to prepare and detect it in contrast with Cheapfakes which are easily detected through the access to the footage. The third type is by speeding up a video, for example when CNN reporter Acosta was portrayed aggressive. The source can be factchecked by InVID a tool that can verify images and videos. InVID is a plugin to debunk fake news. As a journalist and as a citizen you have to be much more careful of what you are posting.

The 5th Thessaloniki International Summer Academy on Media is organized by School of Journalism and Mass Communications of Aristotle University Thessaloniki (AUTh), Jean Monet of European Union Public Diplomacy along with other partners  under the title: “New trends in Media and Journalism: Turning crisis into opportunity”.

 Special emphasis is given on the topics:
1. Disinformation, Science Journalism / News Literacy
2. Crisis Communication
3. New business models in Media Organisations