How to Spot Deepfakes

The internet is a treasure trove, but it can also be hard to tell whether the information you’ve found or been sent is reliable. With new technology, it is even easier to be tricked by fake video, sound files, or images. Here are a few quick tips for navigating this brave new world. 

  • Zoom in. Do objects and people end where they are supposed to? Often faked images have sections inside the image that look clipped, or have a sharper edge than you would expect.
  • Pay attention to faces. That is where most fakes focus. Does the skin appear too smooth or too wrinkly? Is the agedness of the skin similar to the agedness of the hair and eyes? Do shadows appear in places that you would expect? Fakes may be mismatched on some dimensions.
  • Pay attention to blinking, lip movements, and glasses. Is there too much or too little movement? Do the lip movements match the sound? Does the glare and reflection in their glasses change when they move? Often fakes fail to look fully natural on close observation.

What about when you don’t think it is a deepfake, but you’re still not sure if it’s true? Old-fashioned disinformation and misinformation are still out there, too. It is always a good idea to SIFT:

  • Stop
  • Investigate the claim
  • Find better information
  • Trace claims, quotes and media to their original context

Want to practice? Check out Which Face is Real or Detect Fakes. These sites have controlled tests that let you try for yourself, and gain skill and confidence in your ability to catch fakes. Fact checking websites are also helpful. For example, monitors the factual accuracy of political speeches, debates, news stories and other communications, and Snopes fact checks urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation.

And, when in doubt, we are always happy to chat. Librarians are trained to identify misinformation and point you towards reliable sources. We can talk you through what we are seeing, how we sort through what’s out there, and offer a second point of view when you’re not sure. We are available at the desk 72 hours a week. Call us, email us, or just stop by.