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Project description

This project aims at establishing an interdisciplinary research network on deepfakes located at the Leipzig University. Thus, the goal is to develop interdisciplinary cooperations and to strengthen the visibility of the project in the research field. Furthermore, we want to engage in networking processes with civil society. There are several phases of the project.

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 negative applications of deepfakes.

The second quantitative study investigates the public's susceptibility to deception throughaudiovisual manipulated media content. This includes the examination of the audience’s competences in the context of deepfake detection as well as the analysis of factors that can influence the identification of deepfakes.

Currently, deepfake research focuses on the dangers of spreading misinformation and disinformation, leading to political manipulation through deepfakes. Since media organizations play a very significant role in both the dissemination and identification of deepfakes,we conduct interviews with journalists as the third part of the project. Potentials for innovation and challenges in the journalistic handling of deepfakes are, thus, identified, and the requirements for the development of a deepfake identification tool for journalistic practice are discussed.

Lastly, this phase includes the transfer of the research results into (journalistic) practice, and their presentation through events like conferences. Field research, public relations as well as initiatives of project communication and the publishing of scientific papers establish the project in the scientific community of deepfake research.

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 exchange among the different disciplines as well as the fusion of interdisciplinary knowledge, in phase 2 interdisciplinary research collaborations are established. For this purpose, an interdisciplinary conference is organized, which allows for the exchange of ideas and thought-provoking impulses. It also is the basis for the publication of an interdisciplinary anthology. The interdisciplinary findings on how to deal with deepfakes are additionally forming the basis for the creation of information and educational material for affected stakeholders from the media, education, politics and business (e.g., on the regulation of deepfakes, media literacy).

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, publishing and journalism associations
  • Companies, corporate communications, research and development
  • Public and private institutions of (media) education
  • Political organizations and institutions of political education

In addition to communicating the insights gained in the first two project phases and networking, the workshops are intended to identify further research gaps that are then used as inspiration for the development of further projects.


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 funded projects will be conceived in cooperation with scientific, economic and civil society actors. Starting points for project proposals are the reception of and the audience's handling of deepfakes, the development of detection tools for journalists and the evaluation of their usability. The development of possible innovative applications of deepfake technologies (e.g. for journalism) are also considered. All project phases serve to build up resources for the acquisition of third-party funding in a dynamic research field that offers the potential for connection to numerous calls for proposals.

The Deepfake Project