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What are deepfakes?

Deepfakes are a type of audio visual media content that, while it has been altered using artificial intelligence technologies (AI),  appears deceptively realistic. The technology enables the depiction of persons, objects, or the environment in any thinkable way. So far, deepfakes have mainly existed in pornographic contexts, but their increasing implementation in societal areas such as politics is expected.

Risks & opportunities

So far, the scientific and media debate on deepfakes has focused primarily on the risks of the technology. These include, for example, the possible damage altered or faked content can cause  to the reputation of those depicted, or the possible influencing of political campaigns. However, deepfakes also entail potentials, for example in the fashion, entertainment or advertising industries.

Project description

Phase 1

Research & visibility

The first phase includes two quantitative studies as well as one qualitative study. First, the public perception of and knowledge on deepfakes are determined through a representative online survey of the German population. The study further identifies audience attitudes towards positive and negat...
Phase 2

Expertise & multidisciplinarity

In addition to communication studies, AI research in general, law, and computer science are all concerned with deepfake technologies. However, other disciplines such as journalism studies, cognitive science or even science ethics are also increasingly analyzing the phenomenon. To enable a mutual ...
Phase 3

Transferring & connections

Phase 3 promotes networking outside of the scientific community. Through target group-specific workshops, non-scientific actors are informed about the challenges and potentials associated with deepfakes. The focus is set on four fields of action: Media as well as affiliated institutions, publi...
Phase 4

Development of third-party funded projects

Building on the first three project phases, the final phase 4 is devoted to the conception of further externally funded projects on deepfakes. Funding for such projects is currently on the rise. With the help of the interdisciplinary network established in phases 1 to 3, several third-party funde...

    Publications & lectures

    Lecture: KI und Medien. Chancen und Risiken aus Sicht der Kommunikationswissenschaft

    Godulla, A. | 2024 | AI-workshop der Kommission zur Ermittlung der Konzentration (KEK), Berlin   Diskussion der Fragen: Erfolgt eine D...


    The establishment and extension of interdisciplinary cooperations is integral to the project. Allstakeholders that have been addressed in the previous project phases are relevant. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you want to become a part of the interdisciplinary network in the context of this project or if you have questions concerning the contents of the project.

    Spheres of activity that might be relevant include, but are not limited to:

    • Institutions dealing with promotion of media literacy
    • Deepfake technology development, start ups
    • Media organizations, journalists
    • Scientific research groups
    • Politics and political organizations

    Project staff

    The team involved in the project is based at the Institute for Communication and Media Studies at the University of Leipzig. The project is led by representatives of the Chair of Communication Management and the Chair of Empirical Communication and Media Research.

    The Deepfake Project