A new misinformation threat is causing Americans significant concern: deepfakes

Written by

Matt George

Partner, Head of Research

View full profile

Written by

Annie Phifer

Research Manager

View full profile

Written by

Jessa Scott-Johnson

Senior Director - Research

View full profile

Written by

Eunice Yau

Director – Research

View full profile

04.17.24

Deepfakes are a type of AI-powered, manipulated media in which creators can develop convincing videos, audio, and images that depict a person saying or doing something they never said or did. Think videos of fake press conferences that never actually happened, made-up audio dubbed using a real person’s voice, or manipulated images of real figures in sham situations. 

Deepfakes are concerning on many levels. But when mixed with politics, they have the potential to be devastating to our democracy.  

We’re coming up on the November 2024 election, and the rising prevalence of deepfakes is stirring up concern among voters and politicians alike. To understand these concerns, Data for Progress conducted a survey of 1,231 U.S. likely voters earlier this year. What they found: nearly half of all likely voters reported being “very concerned” about the use of deepfakes of candidates and political figures during the U.S. November 2024 election. In all, a nearly unanimous 95% were at least a little concerned about the use of deepfakes. 

What’s more, few voters are reasonably confident that they can reliably identify AI-generated material in video, audio, or images. 89% reported they would NOT be able to distinguish AI-generated media from the real thing – disproportionately represented by voters over the age of 45, those most likely to vote in the upcoming election. 

So what should be done about this? Voters across parties (at least 80% GOP, IND, and DEM voters surveyed) thought that AI-generated content should be clearly labeled as such, especially when that content is used to influence an election. This could help viewers distinguish the real from the fake when it comes to political content. 

It’s no wonder 2024 is being called the “AI Election.” Data suggests that deepfakes and other AI-generated content may have a significant (and potentially detrimental) effect on the future direction of our country.  

Sources: