| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Deepfake technology putting children at risk, say experts

Turkish academics have expressed concerns that deepfake technology, which manipulates and alters images shared online, poses a significant risk to the safety of children, in particular.
Children are threatened by the artificial intelligence technology which creates fake sounds and images, said Soner Yildirim, who teaches computer education at the Ankara-based Middle East Technical University (METU).

He was speaking to Anadolu ahead of the National Child Identity Theft Awareness Day marked on Sept. 1.

The “innocent content” shared by children and families on social media could land at the hands of people with malicious intentions and be used against them, he said in an email interview.

Yildirim said the internet is a fun place for children to learn, but they should be taught its ethical and safe use by parents and teachers.

“We need to teach them that these technologies are not innocent,” he said, adding that children should never be left unchaperoned when exposed to such technologies.

Parents should also check their children’s social media accounts and monitor who they connect with and what type of content they share, he said.

Child abuse, financial fraud

Mustafa Tanel Babagil, a Turkish academic at the Eastern Mediterranean University in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), explained deepfake technology as “the manipulation of the face image.”

“Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, it can make these manipulations-changes-deceptions with a simulation,” he said in an email interview.

Babagil said this technology is mostly used to “produce fake videos of child sexual abuse, financial fraud, threat images and fake sexual videos of celebrities.”

Underlining the need for “faster legal regulations” in the face of such danger, the academic said many countries have started taking steps to prevent the potential harm of deepfake.

Defining the internet as “an incredible resource pool” in terms of the visuals it contains, Babagil stressed that the content shared by families or children on social media platforms might turn into a source for “child abuse” as “malicious deepfake users look for different faces.”

“The control of digital devices and the use of filters are essential for the safety of our children,” he said.

“It should be monitored which applications the home internet and devices are accessing, and unwanted shares and application programs should be filtered. Leaving our children uncontrolled in the digital world with their computers, tablets or phones is like leaving them alone to cool off in the middle of the ocean,” he said.

“Supervising your child should start with social media accounts, and at least it should be supported by simple filters and firewalls of browsers and utilities for regulating internet use at home,” he added.

Learn, talk, check

Omer Delialioglu and Aslihan Istanbullu, two other METU professors, also told Anadolu that children are the most affected group by deepfake technology.

In a world where even adults fall into the deepfake trap whose content is 96% pornography, children are also in danger of their identity information being stolen by the technology itself, they said in an email.

“Any crime can be committed with the stolen ID,” they warned.

Delialioglu and Istanbullu advised parents to first teach themselves about deepfake technology and then keep a check on their children.

  • Anadolu Agency