In at the Deep(fake) End

Deepfakes have been called “The 21st century’s answer to Photoshopping”, and while that’s a neat summary, photoshopped images from days gone by - while subject to their own pitfalls and dangers - didn’t have quite the same capacity to bamboozle and mislead that today’s Artificial Intelligence powered creations possess.

Simply put, a deepfake is a video, image, or audio clip that’s been digitally manipulated to create a convincing – but fake! – piece of media. As the technology used to create them has improved and simplified, and access widened, creating a convincing deepfake is something that most people with internet access could do if they wanted to. You may have seen negative coverage of them in the news recently, due to their potential for unsavoury uses.

While the growth of Artificial Intelligence and the democratisation of access to such tools offers up many potential positives, the downsides of this ‘Brave New World’ of easily manipulated media need to be considered. A machine-generated image of a religious leader in a comically over-sized jacket may be harmless enough (depending on your opinion, of course), but seeing a celebrity apparently endorse a product that they have no link to or association with, can create problems on many levels… including with the CAP Code.

CAP Code vs Coding?

The rise of deepfakes is still a relatively new phenomenon, and the ASA hasn’t yet had cause to rule on any ads featuring them.

There isn’t a separate section of the CAP Code that deals with AI-generated ads. This means any ads the ASA might assess that use deepfake technology to employ manipulated video, imagery or audio for marketing purposes, will have the relevant existing sections of the Code applied to them. Such ads will need to, for example, comply with the rules around misleading advertising, especially the rules concerning testimonials and endorsements.

Getting it right(click)

If you are considering dipping your toe into the waters of AI-assisted deepfake-type content with any of your ads, there’s a few simple things we’d recommend that you keep in mind that will help you stay compliant with the Code:

  • Err on the side of caution – aside from any regulatory hot water you might end up in, you could well get in trouble with the public figure you’ve decided to use in your ad.
  • Personality rights and Intellectual Property are not issues for the ASA, but it’s always worth considering any potential legal action you may be opening yourself up to with your advertising.
  • While the ASA only regulates legitimate advertising, the ASA Scam Ad Alert System could come into play if they receive reports of ads using deepfake technology for nefarious purposes.

Need some advice?

If you have any questions about your planned ads, or want to talk over how any of the issues raised here might impact on your advertising, our Copy Advice team are on hand to provide free, fast and confidential bespoke advice on your non-broadcast advertising.

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