Fighting the phenomenon of deepfake porn is a "useless" pursuit, according to actress Scarlett Johansson, who has seen her face grafted onto dozens of online porn videos by highly-advanced artificial intelligence software.
Speaking with The Washington Post, Scarlett Johansson candidly admitted that the internet, especially the dark web, has become such an abysmal blackhole of depravity that regulating deepfake porn videos out of existence is close to impossible.
"I think it’s a useless pursuit, legally, mostly because the internet is a vast wormhole of darkness that eats itself," said Johansson. "There are far more disturbing things on the dark web than this, sadly. I think it’s up to an individual to fight for their own right to the their image, claim damages, etc."
Johansson's concern, however, is not with how the deepfake porn revolution affects herself or other celebrities, but how it will affect women who have absolutely no public capital to protect their image.
Unfortunately, the technology for deepfake porn can be employed against anyone, not just prominent celebrities. Quite often, creeps have used the technology as a revenge tool against other women by grafting their image onto a porn video and posting it online. Those unfortunate women, said Johansson, need to seriously consider how best to protect themselves.
"It’s a fruitless pursuit for me but a different situation than someone who loses a job over their image being used like that," said Johansson.
Johansson rightly noted that the trouble with regulating deepfake porn is the fact that certain countries do not have the same laws as the United States regarding image rights. She said: "Also, every country has their own legalese regarding the right to your own image, so while you may be able to take down sites in the U.S. that are using your face, the same rules might not apply in Germany. Even if you copyright pictures with your image that belong to you, the same copyright laws don’t apply overseas. I have sadly been down this road many, many times."
"The fact is that trying to protect yourself from the internet and its depravity is basically a lost cause, for the most part," Johansson admitted.
Johannson advised people to take extra precautions to protect their image, no matter how strictly Google or other websites set their policies against deepfake porn videos.
"People think that they are protected by their internet passwords and that only public figures or people of interest are hacked," said Johansson. "But the truth is, there is no difference between someone hacking my account or someone hacking the person standing behind me on line at the grocery store’s account. It just depends on whether or not someone has the desire to target you."
Fortunately, various websites have taken extra measures to regulate deepfake porn on their platforms, including Pornhub, which issued a full-scale ban on such videos in 2018.
"We do not tolerate any nonconsensual content on the site and we remove all said content as soon as we are made aware of it," a PornHub spokesperson told Motherboard last year. "Nonconsensual content directly violates our TOS [terms of service] and consists of content such as revenge porn, deepfakes or anything published without a person’s consent or permission.”
Pornhub vice president Corey Price said, “Users have started to flag content like this and we are taking it down as soon as we encounter the flags. We encourage anyone who encounters this issue to visit our content removal page so they can officially make a request."
“Content that is flagged on Pornhub that directly violates our terms of service is removed as soon as we are made aware of it. This includes non-consensual content," he continued.
“To further ensure the safety of all our fans, we officially took a hard stance against revenge porn, which we believe is a form of sexual assault, and introduced a submission form for the easy removal of non-consensual content.”