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Telegram is no longer a safe place for women as deepfake AI is being used to create deepfake nudes

Can you actually get much lower than this?

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Image: Getty

Sensity, an Amsterdam-based intelligence company, made a discovery this week that the mobile app, Telegram, is being used to exploit women. The startling report, Deepfake bots on Telegram, states that victims’ photographs are being uploaded to a bot that creates deepfake nude images.

According to BuzzFeed News, just under 700,000 women had been made targets by people using the bot. Most of the women targeted are not celebrities, as you may think, but private individuals who have absolutely no idea that their images are being used in such a manner.

A damning report

This is the first time that Sensity has come across anything like this bot on Telegram’s platform. Rather than being a space in which people share explicit images (which we also do not condone here at KnowTechie), the bot has actually been embedded in the site. The company discovered a Telegram network of 101,080 users associated with the bot. Around 70,750 of these profiles seem to be based in Russia and Eastern Europe.

This is different from deepfake videos. They use just one image of the victim to create deepfake content, rather than needing thousands of images. This makes the risk of exploitation and harassment greater, simply because it is much easier to achieve. According to the report, around 105,000 images of females have been uploaded to the site. Of these, some of the victims appear to be underage. Yikes.

Deepfakes aren’t just political

We have seen a lot of discourse around the subject of deepfakes of late. However, most of these feature a political figure such as Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin as the subject. Now, we see how deepfakes are starting to encroach upon the lives of thousands of innocent women. If this isn’t disaster enough already, then it can only become more disastrous in the future.

This opens up a whole new consequence of deepfake technology. In countries whose social practices are more conservative, we could potentially see women subject to further harassment due to these deepfake images, particularly if they were to end up in public hands. Thanks to these images, women could lose employment or be subject to domestic violence from a jealous partner. They could potentially be used to coerce a woman into doing something that they otherwise wouldn’t.

The online world needs to change. Fast.

Women are being exploited and harassed daily via various online platforms. Innocent women are having their lives ruined by all manner of online abuse, and it can’t be allowed to continue. The longer we normalize this kind of objectification of women, the longer we will have this sinister side to everyone’s originally intended space.

It is so accessible and easy to use, making this Telegram bot so dangerous. With so many people using social media – a veritable goldmine of source images for users of this kind of software – we need to evaluate exactly how important to us our social media platforms actually are, with more stringent regulation leveled at this sort of content and significantly more done to catch and punish the creators and users of these sites.

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