Johansson Talks Deepfake Porn

The actor laments a seedy Internet practice
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 1, 2019 10:15 AM CST
Scarlett Johansson arrives at the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards on Monday, Sept. 17, 2018, at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – Scarlett Johansson is throwing in the towel: How can deepfake porn be stopped? For the uninitiated, deepfakes are AI-generated videos that place one person's face on another's body to simulate them doing something they'd likely never do, per Business Insider. Deepfakes can be fairly harmless fun—like putting Nicolas Cage's face on President Trump's body—but are often pornographic videos that use a female celebrity's face. Johansson seems tired of fighting it: "I think it's a useless pursuit, legally, mostly because the internet is a vast wormhole of darkness that eats itself," she tells the Washington Post. Not to mention that many countries have their own image-rights laws: "I have sadly been down this road many, many times," she says.

Perhaps worse, deepfakes target everyday women; video-makers only need photos of a woman (think Facebook) and "deepfake tools" easily available online for free, per the Post. Pornhub and Reddit have banned such videos, but shadowy online figures are offering their skills for $20 a shot. Meanwhile, legal minds and civil rights advocates are debating whether deepfakes are protected by free speech or can be considered crimes like cyberstalking or revenge porn. Which leaves women with little recourse: "It's used as a weapon to silence women, degrade women, show power over women, reducing us to sex objects," says feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian, who has been inserted into a hardcore porno. "This isn’t just a fun-and-games thing. This can destroy lives." (Read more pornography stories.)

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