The rise of synthetic media and deepfakes is
forcing us towards an important and unsettling
realization: our historical belief that video
and audio are reliable records of reality is no
I choose the word “historical” as this belief is
a coincidence of how technology has evolved.
Still today, we trust a phone call from a friend
or a video clip featuring a known politician,
simply based on the recognition of their
voices and faces. Previously, no commonly
available technology could have synthetically
created this media with comparable realism,
so we treated it as authentic by definition.
With the development of synthetic media and
deepfakes, this is no longer the case. Every
digital communication channel our society
is built upon, whether that be audio, video, or
even text, is at risk of being subverted.
Since its foundation in 2018, Deeptrace has
been dedicated to researching deepfakes’
evolving capabilities and threats, providing
crucial intelligence for enhancing our detection
technology. In this report we share the insights
f rom our most comprehensive mapping of
the deepfake landscape to date, revealing
deepfakes’ real-world impact. In doing so, we
provide an expert overview of the current state
of deepfakes, cutting through some of the
hyperbole surrounding the topic. The findings
we present here are grounded in independently
sourced data, accompanied by insights f rom
leading experts in this area.
Our research revealed that the deepfake
phenomenon is growing rapidly online,
with the number of deepfake videos almost
doubling over the last seven months to 14,678.
This increase is supported by the growing
commodification of tools and services that
lower the barrier for non-experts to create
deepfakes. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we
observed a significant contribution to the
creation and use of synthetic media tools from
web users in China and South Korea, despite
the totality of our sources coming from the
Another key trend we identified is the prominence of non-consensual deepfake pornography, which accounted for 96% of the total deepfake videos online. We also found that the top four websites dedicated to deepfake pornography received more than 134 million views on videos targeting hundreds of female celebrities worldwide. This significant viewership demonstrates a market for websites creating and hosting deepfake pornography, a trend that will continue to grow unless decisive action is taken.
Deepfakes are also making a significant impact
on the political sphere. Two landmark cases
f rom Gabon and Malaysia that received minimal
Western media coverage saw deepfakes linked
to an alleged government cover-up and a
political smear campaign. One of these cases
was related to an attempted military coup,
while the other continues to threaten a high-
profile politician with imprisonment. Seen
together, these examples are possibly the
most powerful indications of how deepfakes
are already destabilizing political processes.
Without defensive countermeasures, the
integrity of democracies around the world are
Outside of politics, the weaponization of deepfakes and synthetic media is influencing the cybersecurity landscape, enhancing traditional cyber threats and enabling entirely new attack vectors. Notably, 2019 saw reports of cases where synthetic voice audio and images of non-existent, synthetic people were used to enhance social engineering against businesses and governments.
Deepfakes are here to stay, and their impact is already being felt on a global scale. We hope this report stimulates further discussion on the topic, and emphasizes the importance of developing a range of countermeasures to protect individuals and organizations from the harmful applications of deepfakes.
Founder, CEO, and Chief Scientist