Summary of Deepfakes and the New Disinformation War

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People in democratic societies today are worried about the rapid spread of fake news across social media – and rightly so, argue law experts Robert Chesney and Danielle Citron. In this essay for Foreign Affairs, Chesney and Citron warn about the danger of emerging technologies that will soon allow virtually anyone with a computer and internet access to create “deepfakes”: doctored visual and audio content which can help create false naratives and support other nefarious activities. Their eye-opening essay will be of interest to media consumers, public activists and policy makers.

About the Authors

Robert Chesney is Chair and Director of the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas at Austin. Danielle Citron is Professor of Law at the University of Maryland.



Artificial intelligence has advanced to a stage where content creators can synthesize audio and video content showing events which never occurred. The rise of these highly realistic digital manipulations, known as “deepfakes,” poses formidable challenges to democratic societies. For example, insurgent and terrorist groups can put words in the mouths of world leaders and, thus, rally support for their causes. In the foreseeable future, anyone with a computer and internet access will be able to create deepfakes. Meanwhile, social media will enable deepfakes to spread fast and far as users pass ...

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