“Devastating” deepfake images of Taylor Swift could lead to a US crackdown, according to Jess Kelly.
Over the weekend, explicit images began to circulate of the music superstar on social media, leading to widespread condemnation across the political spectrum.
US Representative Joe Morelle described the images as “appalling” and Representative Yvette D Clarke said it was an “issue both sides of the aisle and even Swifties should be able to come together to solve.”
From politicians to pop stars
Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Tech Correspondent Jess Kelly said deepfakes have increasingly become a problem in recent years.
“Very often and very publicly, they’ve been used to manipulate images of politicians,” she said.
“There was that viral image of the Pope wearing a white puffer jacket but in recent days, very explicit deepfake images of Taylor Swift engaging in sexual acts flooded the internet.
“To the point where one of the images on X/Twitter had been viewed 47 million times before it was taken down.”
In response, the social media giant has blocked people from searching 'Taylor Swift' on the platform.
Jess described the images as “horrific” and said they could have a “devastating” effect on victims.
“It’s also caused a lot of politicians to sit up straight and think, ‘This is happening, it could happen to anybody’,” she said.
“Some of the politicians in the US have said, ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s Taylor Swift or a 15-year-old girl who lives at the end of your street’.”
The US currently does not have legislation banning the dissemination of deepfakes but things are different on this side of the Atlantic.
“At the moment, there are laws and rules and regulations around intimate image abuse, that’s something that we here in Ireland under Coco’s Law, have legislation for,” Jess said.
“In the UK, they have factored these deepfakes… into the Digital Services Act but now they’re looking to bring in meaningful legislation to clamp down on this.”
Easier than ever
Jess said the production of deepfake images used to be “very complex” but now some people find them quite easy to make on apps.
“It should be noted that programmes like Chat GPT have safeguards in place, so that not everybody can do it,” she said.
“But the fact that somebody out there can do it and manipulate images to that extent is concerning.”
A person found guilty of intimate image abuse in Ireland risks a prison sentence of up to seven years or an unlimited fine.
Anyone who has been a victim of such a crime can report it to An Garda Síochána through Hotline.ie.
Main image: Taylor Swift performs during the Eras Tour at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.