Texas deepfake law unlikely to survive scrutiny of the courts

Sept. 13, Jared Schroeder, SMU journalism professor specializing in Freedom of the Press issues, applauds the Texas “deepfake” laws but wonders if they will survive the scrutiny of the courts. Published in the Texas Tribune: http://bit.ly/2lGewSj

Texas this month became the first state to criminalize deepfakes — the practice of making it appear people said or did something they did not actually say or do with manipulated video or digital information. What concerns Texas lawmakers are deepfake videos, and especially those used for political purposes.

It’s a shame such good intentions, designed to thwart an emerging threat to democracy, are likely to be struck down by the courts. Without such a law, partisans can use artificial intelligence to create such convincing deepfake videos we literally will not be able to believe our own eyes.

While text can easily be used to mislead, video clips tend to be more believable. It puts the viewer in the moment. If politically motivated deepfakes become commonplace, our trust in information we encounter will falter. We simply will not know if what we are seeing happened or not. Truth could become whatever the deepfake puppeteers want it to be. . . 

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