Reddit bans ‘involuntary porn’ communities that trade AI-generated celebrity videos

Following other recent bans on the controversial practice of AI-generated, face-swapped porn, Reddit too has brought the ban hammer down. On Wednesday, the social platform shut down r/deepfakes and r/deepfakeNSFW, two popular hubs for the fake videos, which use algorithmic software to create virtual pornography depicting the likeness of unwilling participants. Reddit also updated its policy around involuntary pornography and the sexualization of minors. The move follows similar crackdowns on Pornhub, Discord and Twitter.

As Reddit’s new language states:

Reddit prohibits the dissemination of images or video depicting any person in a state of nudity or engaged in any act of sexual conduct apparently created or posted without their permission, including depictions that have been faked.

Images or video of intimate parts of a person’s body, even if the person is clothed or in public, are also not allowed if apparently created or posted without their permission and contextualized in a salacious manner (e.g., “creepshots” or “upskirt” imagery). Additionally, do not post images or video of another person for the specific purpose of faking explicit content or soliciting “lookalike” pornography.

Unrelatedly, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian announced today that he would be stepping aside at Reddit to focus on a full-time role at Initialized Capital, the early-stage VC firm that he co-founded.

Before the time of the ban, r/deepfakes had a subscriber base of more than 92,000 members. A screenshot from before the ban reveals recent posts of AI-generated porn featuring Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez and Olivia Wilde. A pinned post shares info about software called FakeApp that anyone can use to splice together porn with celebrity videos, resulting in a manipulated end product that can depict public figures (or anyone else) engaging in sex acts that never happened. TechCrunch has reached out to Reddit for more details on how they plan to enforce the content ban elsewhere on the platform and will update this story when we hear back.

The controversy around this kind of video blew up when Motherboard reported on Reddit user “deepfakes” who recreated a fake AI-powered porn featuring Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot. The story, appropriately titled “AI-Assisted Fake Porn Is Here and We’re All Fucked,” is a good primer on the whole thing.

The trend is disturbing on a few levels. Obviously it’s unsettling and extremely creepy for anyone to be able to create sexual content — essentially on-demand revenge porn — without its virtual subject’s consent. But even beyond the porn angle, the machine learning technology that makes these kind of manipulated videos work will only grow more sophisticated over time, making it even harder for internet-goers to determine what’s real and what’s fabricated.

If you think we have a fake news problem now, well, it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Featured Image: scyther5/Getty Images

Reddit adds 2-factor authentication for all

Reddit has finally joined other major web properties in adding two-factor authentication for all users. It’s been available for mods and some testers for a while, but this is the first time the vast multitudes of redditors will have access to it.

Turn it on and you’ll have to enter a six-digit code sent to your phone whenever you have a new login attempt. You’ll need Google Authenticator, Authy, or any TOTP-supporting auth app — texting codes is no longer recommended (and really, it was always a bad idea).

There’s not much to setting it up: go into the password/email area of the site’s preferences once you’ve logged in on a desktop browser. Enable two-factor authentication and follow the instructions.

Now, this may be a problem for power users, who might have trouble switching between the one they use for ordinary browsing and the one they use to post racist comments on every post they can, or the one they use to vehemently disagree with a headline without reading the article. But that’s the price of security.

Featured Image: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith