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Updated Mar 10, 2021 at 10:42AM EST by shevyrolet.

Added Feb 01, 2018 at 10:02AM EST by Don.

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Deepfakes are videos in which the subject is face-swapped using machine-learning algorithms. The practice was created by Redditor Deepfakes, who launched a dedicated subreddit to share the videos in November 2017. In January 2018, the FakeApp desktop application was released as a tool for creating the digitally altered videos.


On November 2nd, 2017, Redditor deepfakes created the /r/deepfakes[1] subreddit as a place to share his digitally-altered sexually explicit videos in which the subject's face was swapped with a celebrity or public figure. According to the Redditor, the technology uses open-source libraries Keras and TensorFlow to perform the face-swaps.



On January 8th, 2018, the deepfakeapp Reddit account announced the launch of FakeApp, an application described as "a desktop tool for creating deepfakes."[2] That month, the /r/fakeapp[3] subreddit dedicated to discussions about the software gathered upwards of 2,500 subscribers. On January 30th, the /r/facesets[7] subreddit was launched for users to share sets of face images extracted for the creation of deepfakes.

Nic Cage Videos

On January 25th, 2018 Redditor [8] derpfakes posted a video in the /r/deepfakes subreddit, a community where in which people use a deep-learning application called FakeApp to replace the faces of people in videos, of Andy Samberg’s replaced with Nicolas Cage’s. The video (shown below) received more than 600 upvotes (97% upvoted) and 20 comments.

gif of a weekend update sketch of andy samberg with nicolas cage's face

Several days later, derpfakes pasted Cage’s face onto Amy Adam’s from the film Man of Steel. The post (shown below, left) received more than 2,000 points (98% upvoted) and 90 comments. Additionally, on January 26th, derpfakes put Cage’s head on Harrison Ford’s in the film Raiders of the Lost Ark (shown below, right).

Man of Steel gif of Nicolas Cage as Lois Lane Raiders of the Lost Ark gif with Nicolas Cage as Indiana Jones


On December 11th, 2017, the Vice technology news site Motherboard[4] published an article titled "AI-Assisted Fake Porn Is Here and We’re All Fucked," which contained interviews with various experts about the ethical implications of deepfakes technology. On January 24th, Motherboard[5] published a follow-up article on the FakeApp program titled "We Are Truly Fucked: Everyone Is Making AI-Generated Fake Porn Now." On January 31st, 2018, YouTuber Philip DeFranco uploaded a video discussing DeepFakes and FakeApp.


On January 27th, 2018, the Derpfakes YouTube channel was released, which features work-safe videos created with deepfakes software. Within one month, the channel received more than 400,000 video views and 1,300 subscribers.

Gfycat Removal

On January 31st, 2018, the media-hosting site Gfycat began removing all deepfakes-related media. That day, Motherboard[6] published an article about the purge, which included a statement from a Gfycat spokesperson who revealed the company was "actively removing this content."

/r/Deepfakes Ban

On February 7th, 2018, the /r/deepfakes subreddit was banned by Reddit staff for violating the site's content policy "against involuntary pornography" (shown below). Additionally, Reddit also removed the /r/deepfakensfw, /r/youtubefakes, /r/CelebFakes, /r/doppelbangher, /r/facesets and /r/xray subreddits.

This community has been banned This subreddit was banned due to a violation of our content policy, specifically our policy against involuntary p---------- Banned 1 hour ago. BACK TO REDDIT

In a statement to the Vice tech news site Motherboard,[13] a Reddit spokesperson explained the reasoning behind the new site-wide restriction:

"Reddit strives to be a welcoming, open platform for all by trusting our users to maintain an environment that cultivates genuine conversation. As of February 7, 2018, we have made two updates to our site-wide policy regarding involuntary pornography and sexual or suggestive content involving minors. These policies were previously combined in a single rule; they will now be broken out into two distinct ones. Communities focused on this content and users who post such content will be banned from the site."

That day, a thread about the banning reached the front page of /r/KotakuInAction.[9] Meanwhile, Redditor admin landoflobsters submitted a post to /r/announcements[14] about the site-wide rules update. Also on February 7th, several news sites published articles about the ban, including The Verge,[10] Inverse[11] and BoingBoing.[12]

Voat and 8chan

Following the ban, many of the users moved to the /deepfakes/ board on 8chan[18] and the /v/DeepFakes community on Voat.[17]

/r/FakeApp Ban

On February 16th, 2018, Reddit banned the /r/FakeApp subreddit, a community dedicated to work-safe video created with the Fake App software, leaving a notice that it had been banned for violating their policy against "involuntary pornography." That day, The Daily Dot[15] published an article about the ban, noting that a recent cache[16] of the subreddit's front page was "dominated by technical discussed of the software, mixed in with some non-porn fakes."

Obama BuzzFeed PSA

On April 17th, 2018, BuzzFeed tweeted[19] a video deepfake of former President Barack Obama played by Get Out director Jordan Peele. The post received more than 13,000 retweets and 29,000 likes in 24 hours. That day, the video was also posted on YouTube[27] (shown below), where it received more than 100,000 views in less than 24 hours.

The video warns of the technology that can be used to deceive viewers. In the piece, Peele says, "This is a dangerous time. Moving forward, we need to be more vigilant with what we trust from the internet."[20]

@BuzzFeedNews followed the post by tweeting[21] tips for identifying these kinds of fakes. They wrote, "Here’s how to avoid falling for fake videos like this one: 1) Don’t jump to conclusions 2) Consider the source 3) Check where else it is (and isn’t) online 4) Look closely at the speaker’s mouth 5) Slow the video down." The post (shown below) received more than 350 retweets and 750 likes in 24 hours.

That day, Twitter[22] published a Moments page about the video.

Several media outlets covered the video, including Business Insider,[23] the AV Club,[24] Fox News, [25] The Mary Sue[26] and more.

BuzzFeed NEWS BuzzFeed News @BuzzFeedNews Here's how to avoid falling for fake videos like this one: 1) Don't jump to conclusions 2) Consider the source 3) Check where else it is (and isn't) online 4) Look closely at the speaker's mouth 5) Slow the video down How To Spot A DeepFake Like The Barack Obama-Jordan Peele Video This "deepfake" video starring Jordan Peele as Barack Obama shows how easy it's getting to create convincing audio and video fakes. Here's how to

Intelligence Community Report

On September 13th, 2018, three lawmakers sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence demanding a report on deepfakes by mid-December 2018. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), the letter's authors, wrote to Director Daniel Coats, urging him to investigate Deep Fakes, which, they argue, could be a national security issue and could be used by hostile foreign nations or other nefarious actors.[28]

The letter reads:

Forged videos, images or audio could be used to target individuals for blackmail or for other nefarious purposes of greater concern for national security, they could also be used by foreign or domestic actors to spread misinformation. As deep fake technology becomes more advanced and more accessible, it could pose a threat to United States public discourse and national security, with broad and concerning implications for offensive active measures campaigns targeting the United States.

Search Interest

External References

[1] Reddit – /r/deepfakes (page unavailable)

[2] Reddit – fakeapp post (page unavailable)

[3] Reddit – /r/fakeapp (page unavailable)

[4] Motherboard – AI-Assisted Fake Porn Is Here and Were All Fucked

[5] Motherboard -We Are Truly Fucked

[6] Motherboard – AI-Generated Fake Porn Makers Have Been Kicked Off Their Favorite Host

[7] Reddit (via Wayback Machine) – /r/facesets

[8] Reddit – r/deepfakes has been banned

[9] Reddit – r/deepfakes has been banned

[10] The Verge – Reddit bans deepfakes AI porn communities

[11] Inverse – Reddit Just Banned r/Deepfakes

[12] BoingBoing – Reddit shuts down Deepfakes subreddit

[13] Motherboard – Reddit Just Shut Down the Deepfakes Subreddit

[14] Reddit – Update on site-wide rules regarding involuntary pornography and the sexualization of minors

[15] The Daily Dot – Reddit cracks down on FakeApp

[16] Web Archive – Fake App archive

[17] Voat (via Wayback Machine) – /v/DeepFakes

[18] 8chan – /deepfakes/

[19] Twitter – @BuzzFeed's Post

[20] BuzzFeed – This PSA About Fake News From Barack Obama Is Not What It Appears

[21] Twitter – @BuzzFeedNews's Tweet

[22] Twitter – You won't believe what Obama says in this video 😉

[23] Business Insider – A viral video that appeared to show Obama calling Trump a 'dips---' shows a disturbing new trend called 'deepfakes'

[24] The AV Club – Jordan Peele makes Obama call Trump a "complete dipshit" in PSA about fake-video technology

[25] Fox News – Jordan Peele teams up with BuzzFeed for expletive-laden Obama fake news video

[26] The Mary Sue – Jordan Peele Creates Fake Obama PSA to Show How Easy It Is

[27] YouTube – You Won’t Believe What Obama Says In This Video! 😉

[28] – Letter to the Director

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