Virginia, One Of The Very First Places Where Deepfakes Are Illegal


Revenge porn has been around for a long time. But it became a phenomenon after deepfakes started flourishing on the internet.

Deepfakes which use AI to digitally create or alter realistic looking video contents, are becoming increasingly difficult to stop. With the variety of available tools, anyone can practically create a more modern version of revenge porn.

In worse case scenario, the technology can also be used to spread fake news of government officials saying what they aren't suppose to say.

With deepfakes' technology evolving since its first introduction on Reddit, deepfakes videos are becoming even harder to distinguish from real ones.

To combat this, Virginia just became one of the first to impose criminal penalties on the spread of non-consensual, computer-generated “deepfake” images and videos.


The amendment which officially went into effect on July 1st, 2019, means that anyone who is found guilty for distributing deepfake material can face a sentence of up to 12 months in prison, and up to $2,500 in fines.

Virginia, the southeastern U.S. state that stretches from the Chesapeake Bay to the Appalachian Mountains, with a long Atlantic coastline, has frowned upon porn by initiating bans on the distributions of nude images and videos since 2014.

Materials that have the intentions to "coerce, harass, or intimidate” someone are already illegal.

The state updates its law to clarify that revenge porn also includes “falsely created videographic or still image” - which means Photoshopped images, fake video footage, as well as “deepfakes” fall under this law.

While the move is considered a step forward to curb fake news and fake materials from hurting anyone, victims of revenge porn said that revenge porn laws don't do much since victims aren't guaranteed anonymity.

What this means, as long as the fake materials continue to circulate on the web, the victims can experience continuous harassment and bullying.

Another approach that has been done to help, including platforms in banning deepfakes and revenge porn.

Unfortunately, the process was proven to be difficult. Facebook for example, had limited success with using AI to tackle the issue. Porn websites have also imposed ban on deepfakes, but still the materials continue to spread.

Deepfake technology has become easily accessible, allowing anyone to create them via apps or on affordable consumer-grade equipment. Initially, people started faking celebrities and flooded the internet with pornographic films of high-profile women.

When the hype ceased, people started creating fake videos for revenge porn, as well as impersonations of high-profile figures, such as a video of Barack Obama calling Donald Trump a "dipshit", and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in declaring “whoever controls the data, controls the future.”

Further reading: Online Porn Is Said To Leave More Carbon Footprint Than When Porn Was On Magazines And Tapes