Why Has It Taken A Few Deepfake AI Pics Of Taylor Swift For All Hell To Break Loose?

Taylor Swift AI porn scandal

In the biggest AI porn scandal yet, at least in terms of media coverage and general hysterics, a few deepfaked pictures of the American songstress Taylor Swift, uploaded to Twitter/X and a notorious celeb porn site, looks set to be the final trigger for a potential raft of new legislation in the USA and beyond. Whether the backlash, in this case, is proportionate and rational is one thing, but it’s worthwhile exploring why it has taken a handful of AI Taylor Swift pics (swiftly – excuse the pun – removed from X) to generate so much heat for AI porn.

Deepfake porn is hardly a new thing. It’s been around for a number of years now, and just about every female celebrity on the planet has had explicit deepfaked pictures or videos of themselves posted on dubious sites such as ‘Mr Deepfake Porn’. This includes teenage celebrities, or celebrities who became famous in their teens, such as Greta Thurnberg, and Harry Potter star Emma Watson. Up until the last 12 months or so, this was mainly done through ‘reface’ tech, which uses AI to superimpose any face onto that of an actress in a porn scene – picture or video. There were also ‘undress apps’ that used AI to ‘nudify’ any image of a clothed female. With the rather sudden rise of LLM AI image generators such as Stable Diffusion, it became possible to put any celebrity, into any conceivable scene or situation of the user’s choosing, from scratch, entirely AI-generated. The situation is likely to get worse in the immediate future after a new and instant method of generating deepfake porn from a single image was made publicly available online.

Still, it is somewhat curious that a handful of AI pornographic pictures of Taylor Swift should have been the trigger for the biggest backlash yet against AI porn. There have not only been calls to criminalize deepfake porn throughout the USA, or at least the non-consensual sharing of it, but also demands that tech giants such as X be held responsible for hosting such images, and even Apple and Google for having apps that are capable of generating deepfake porn in their app stores, and the LLM AI image generators themselves for making possible the creation of deepfake images. There have been cases in the last few months, that one would think are far more serious and disturbing. For example, a class of underage Spanish teens had deepfaked adult images of themselves generated and shared around by boys at their school. Taylor Swift, is after all a world-famous celebrity. There are surely at least a few thousand men (and boys) right now masturbating to explicit thoughts inside their head of what they would like to do to Miss Swift, and probably some of them are more perverted than the acts depicted in the AI images.

Some have put the reaction down to the particularly fanatical and even cult-like fan base that Taylor Swift has, most of them belonging to a generation steeped in the ways of online activism and social justice. Perhaps it’s in the particularly obscene and realistic way she is portrayed in the pictures. I’ve only seen a couple, one of which features her at an NFL game in a lewd sexual position, inviting fans at a game to bang her. I believe her boyfriend is a player for one of the teams contesting this weekend’s Super Bowl. Apparently, several of the images were of this theme. The other image I saw showed her in a prison cell, posing suggestively on the lap of Donald Trump. Other images that were uploaded to X allegedly showed her in hardcore interracial scenarios.

But the context of the backlash to this Tayler Swift scandal does have to be mentioned. There have been steady and increasing calls for a federal law in the US against both deepfake porn and for the regulation of AI porn in general. In fact, for AI image generation and deepfakes in general. There is a Presidential election this year in the USA, and there are understandable and widespread concerns regarding the malicious influence that deepfaked images could have on it. And there have been particular fears that such material will be most likely spread on Elon Musk’s X/Twitter, which has attracted controversy over a percieved lack of moderation since his takeover. The response of X to the Taylor Swift images has not been entirely reassuring in this regard. Musk’s solution has been to ban all searches related to Taylor Swift.

Featured image by Axelle /Bauer-Griffin /FilmMagic via Getty

About xhumanist

Xhumanist has been writing on porn/sex tech for nearly two decades, and has been predicting the rise of VR and AR porn, as well as AI porn, and their coming together to produce fully 'immersive porn', which would be indistinguishable from the real thing, and create a society of 'sexual abundance'. He identifies as a digisexual, and has been quoted in Wired Magazine.

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