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  • Writer's picturelaurawippell

Taylor Swift isn’t the only victim: why you should be exploring deepfakes with your students

By now I’m sure you’ve come across deepfakes, or AI-created images, videos and/or audio which are used to depict fake events.  Who hasn’t had a chuckle at them?  It might have been the deepfake of the Queen’s christmas message, or, if you’re a GOT fan, the John Snow deepfake.  Perhaps you’ll remember these silly voiceover parodies, which could also be considered deepfakes.  Even Snoop Dog posts deepfakes to his Instagram account, like this one.  

But while they can give us a laugh, it doesn’t take long to think about the sinister side of deepfakes, which includes:

In fact, just this week Taylor Swift has been in the news after nonconsensual, deepfake images were spread of her.  I recently came across this documentary by the Guardian, where a woman with a public profile discovered her face had been digitally edited onto pornographic photos and videos.  Horrifying. Shocking. Deeply upsetting.

While I think the documentary is a bit explicit to share with high school students, I kept thinking of it for days after watching it.  And then I came across news articles which talked about how it’s not only adults who are abusing deepfakes: this article mentions Australian high school students using them to harass and bully classmates.  That’s when I decided that I needed to create resources about deepfakes, because are our students REALLY considering the consequences?

How much do you know about deepfakes?  Test your knowledge with this quiz.  This quiz also appears in this deepfakes inquiry activity, which is the first resource on deepfakes I developed and includes questions to help students prepare for the Individual Oral.    

In this English B deepfake bundle, you’ll also find listening and reading comprehension activities about deepfakes to prepare for Paper 2; a complete Paper 1 practice on deepfakes, and a socratic seminar, to develop active listening and speaking skills.  

Whether you use these resources or not, I do hope you will consider having a discussion around deepfakes in your English B classroom.  If you need further convincing, the topic itself can be linked to all five of the English B prescribed themes:

  • how deepfakes affect victims sense of self and identity

  • experiences of victims of deepfake videos and how their life is affected

  • how artistic expression is affected by deepfakes as part of human ingenuity

  • how rules and regulations are being brought in to combat deepfakes as part of social organisation

  • and ethical issues linked to artificial intelligence and deepfakes as part of sharing the planet

Deepfakes are a global issue which are being used by adults and minors in extremely negative and damaging ways.  As IB educators I think it’s our responsibility to explore this with our students. 

What’s your opinion on deepfakes?  What other global issues would you like to see more resources on?  I’d love to read your comments below!

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