Porn Sites Still Won’t Take Down Nonconsensual Deepfakes

Hundreds of explicit deepfake videos featuring female celebrities, actresses, and musicians are being uploaded to the world’s biggest pornography websites every month, new analysis shows. The nonconsensual videos rack up millions of views, and porn companies are still failing to remove them from their websites.

WIRED UK

This story originally appeared on WIRED UK.

Up to 1,000 deepfake videos have been uploaded to porn sites every month as they became increasingly popular during 2020, figures from deepfake detection company Sensity show. The videos continue to break away from dedicated deepfake pornography communities and into the mainstream.

Deepfake videos hosted on three of the biggest porn websites, XVideos, Xnxx, and xHamster, have been viewed millions of times. The videos are surrounded by ads, helping to make money for the sites. XVideos and Xnxx, which are both owned by the same Czech holding company, are the number one and three biggest porn websites in the world and rank in the top 10 biggest sites across the entire web. They each have, or exceed, as many visitors as Wikipedia, Amazon, and Reddit.

One 30-second video, which appears on all three of the above sites and uses actress Emma Watson’s face, has been viewed more than 23 million times—being watched 13 million times on Xnxx. Other deepfake videos, which have hundreds of thousands or millions of views, include celebrities such as Natalie Portman, Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, and Indian actress Anushka Shetty. Many of the celebrities have continuously been the targets of deepfakes since they first emerged in 2018.

“The attitude of these websites is that they don’t really consider this a problem,” says Giorgio Patrini, CEO and chief scientist at Sensity, which was until recently called DeepTrace. Deepfake pornography videos are widely considered to target, harm, and humiliate the women that are placed at their center. Patrini adds that Sensity has increasingly seen deepfakes being made for other people in the public realm, such as Instagram, Twitch and YouTube influencers, and he worries the advancement of deepfake tech will inevitably see members of the public targeted.

“Until there is a strong reason for [porn websites] to try to take them down and to filter them, I strongly believe nothing is going to happen,” Patrini says. “People will still be free to upload this type of material without any consequences to these websites that are viewed by hundreds of millions of people”.

Many of the videos are hiding in plain sight—they’re uploaded to be watched, after all. Some videos include “fake” or “deepfake” in their titles and are tagged as being a deepfake. For instance, tag pages on XVideos and Xnxx list hundreds of the videos.

However, the full scale of the problem on porn websites is unknown. There will probably never be a true picture of how many of these videos are created without people’s permission.

Despite repeated attempts to contact representatives of XVideos and Xnxx, the owners did not answer requests for comment on their attitudes and policies towards deepfakes.

Alex Hawkins, VP of xHamster, says the company doesn’t have a specific policy for deepfakes but treats them “like any other nonconsensual content.” Hawkins says that the company’s moderation process involves multiple different steps, and it will remove videos if people’s images are used without permission.

“We absolutely understand the concern around deepfakes, so we make it easy for it to be removed,” Hawkins says. “Content uploaded without necessary permission being obtained is in violation of our Terms of Use and will be removed once identified.” Hawkins adds that the dozens of videos appearing as deepfakes on xHamster, which were highlighted by WIRED, have been passed onto its moderation team to be reviewed.

Deepfake upload figures seen by WIRED did not include Pornhub, which is the second-biggest porn website and despite banning deepfakes in 2018 still has problems with the videos.

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