The good news is that you could be the star of a huge new YouTube channel. The bad news is that you might not want to be, and even worse, you might not have much choice in the matter.
As online platforms become a larger and larger part of our social lives, they develop more influence in the real world. One of the ways people try to exploit the digital world is through creating fake online accounts known as ‘bots’.
Bots are being created with identities stolen from social media. Names, photos, even public details are copied from real people and used to open fake accounts that can spread spam, be used to amplify online posts and even spread political disinformation. But now, bots have a new face — yours.
Digital face swapping technology is advancing quickly, meaning the ability to cleanly replace faces in video is growing. This tech caused a stir with “deep fakes” in the porn industry and is now creating terrifying new possibilities for online bots. We have entered a world in which your likeness could be stolen and used to create a YouTube channel full of videos of you that you want no part in.
But now, Bots have a new face — yours.
Imagine this nightmarish scenario: You’re surfing the web and you stumble onto a channel where YOU have been used to replace Regina George in a face-swapped version of Mean Girls. That’s right, without any warning or consent, you could become the meanest girl of all — and then nobody would like you.
Or imagine you’re working on a historical documentary project, and as you look through old clips, you find a video that shows that you were part of the moon landing!
Anything is possible in this new digital world. Bots could create channels based on your real name and information, where you could be swapped into the greatest movies of all time: You defeated “The Terminator.” You were king of the world on “The Titanic.” YOU took down Voldemort!!
Maybe you’re thinking that being the greatest hero in film history might be a good thing, that these bot-channels are doing you a favor. Guess again, friend. This is a conniving, malicious attack, meant to undermine the social fabric of our world and tear our lives apart.
Here’s why: You’re on your favorite dating app and swipe right, matching with a total hottie. You make plans, get all dressed up and meet at a fancy restaurant, ready to get to know each other in person. When your potential love interest shows up, the first thing they say to you is, of course: “I saw your YouTube channel and that clip where you defeated that Sharknado!” And just like that, your dreams are crushed. There’s no recovery once you admit the truth — that you don’t have what it takes to defeat a Sharknado. The date is over.
Bots are a major problem for social media platforms, and face-swapping tech is just adding to the problem. There’s only one possible way to ensure your safety against such cyber attacks: Study science, so when the time comes, you really can defeat a Sharknado.