Will Taylor Swift Deepfakes Be the Start to Change?

Credit: Mark Blinch/Reuters
Credit: Mark Blinch/Reuters

Taylor Swift has long been a major figure in the music industry, with an extensive list of accomplishments and awards she’s been collecting since the age of 16. She remains a very prevalent artist, with 2023 being one of her most successful years to date. It seems as though every week she’s making headlines, whether they’re about her wildly successful tour, her re-recordings of albums, or new award nominations. 

Recently, Taylor’s been gaining a different kind of attention. Shortly after she and Travis Kelce, a tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs, announced they were dating, she quickly received a large amount of backlash. Football fans are very upset over the fact that the NFL is using her appearances at Chiefs games for content, and they argue that she is being shown on television too much while in the stands. What started as a minor annoyance in the fanbase quickly elevated when a user decided to post AI-generated images of Swift on X (previously known as Twitter). The user included multiple sexually explicit pictures of her on the field with other players. X wasted no time removing the images from the site. The recent spotlight on Swift’s experience has served as a call to action for many who have been waiting to bring up this long-ignored issue. They are begging the question: when will we finally do something about the horrors of deepfakes?

The images of Swift are obviously not the first of their kind to be generated, but the threat of them has never been a popular discussion. What is the most worrisome is the fact that if this can happen to Taylor Swift, that means we are all at risk. Swift, being a very well-known artist, had her situation handled very quickly, although the images will be available somewhere on the internet forever.  This makes many wonder, are the same measures taken to protect victims of these images who aren’t high-profile? The trauma that follows those targeted by deepfakes is everlasting and leads to strong feelings of being unsafe. Victims describe the anxiety and humiliation that haunts them, making tasks as simple as going out into public fearful. 

This incident is not the first time Swift has experienced something like this, as she was unfortunately involved in a sexual assault case in 2015, likely making this recent incident especially trauma-provoking. Many have been arguing for lawmakers to create stronger regulations on this kind of technology, especially as the use of AI continues to increase, along with the number of reports of artificially generated explicit photos. 

Green Level Junior Sara Cunningham says, “It’s even more of an issue when people are targeting minors, and it scares me that this is something that people could do to even my classmates.”Swift has yet to speak on this event, but hopefully, if one thing comes of it, it is that changemakers will realize the work that still needs to be done on AI. 

More to Discover