Published on 21 Mar 2022

People with less analytical ability more likely to spread deepfakes

The Straits Times, page B6 (half-page story) -

New research suggests the reasons people deliberately share deepfakes like these with others could be linked to social media use, the fear of missing out (Fomo) and a person’s analytical skills. A study by a NTU social scientist published last month found that people who tend to use social media to get their news fix are more likely to intentionally share deepfakes such as AI-manipulated pictures, videos or audio clips with others. It also found that such social media use was linked to people who were more anxious about being out of touch with their social connections, which could influence them to share deepfakes. The findings were based on online surveys of about 760 people in the US and 530 in Singapore in 2020, and were consistent for both countries.

Prior research has shown that getting news from social media is a social experience, unlike reading the news from traditional sources like newspapers, said Asst Prof Saifuddin Ahmed from NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, who authored the research paper on the latest findings. A person’s cognitive abilities might play a role too, with the research showing that those who scored lower in analytical skills tended to share deepfakes. Prof Saifuddin said that while the deepfake issue here is not as bad as in Western countries, it poses a serious threat to the social cohesion and political stability of any nation. By knowing how people engage with deepfakes and who is vulnerable, safeguards can be developed. These could include targeted education efforts to protect those with lower levels of analytical skills against the fakes, said the social scientist.