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YouTuber 'disgusted' at pornographic deepfakes and forced to pay to get them taken down
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@itssunpi

YouTuber 'disgusted' at pornographic deepfakes and forced to pay to get them taken down

Sunpi described the images as 'anxiety-inducing'

A gaming YouTuber has said she had to pay hundreds of pounds to remove porn which used deepfake technology to make it look like she was involved.

Sunpi has made a name for herself on YouTube by creating content about video games and gaming culture, with posts showing her travelling to play games, sharing her reactions to new titles and showing off her gaming setup.

She's earned more than 117,000 subscribers through her content, but last month she was made aware of pornographic deepfake content which used her image.

Sunpi has thousands of subscribers online.

Deepfakes manipulate images of someone - typically without their consent - to make it look as if they appear in an image or video.

Sunpi told The Independent she couldn't bring herself to watch the video which used her image, but she saw images and knew they were extremely convincing.

“My heart just dropped," she said. "I felt ashamed and disgusted. I rang my mum and cried. She was really, really angry.

“I looked at the pictures, and oh my god, they looked so real. You don’t want to show people, even though you are not showing yourself. It’s taking away power from me. If I wanted to put that content out I would.”

Sunpi quickly jumped into action and spoke to lawyers to try and get the content taken down.

She was forced to pay around £500 ($618) in legal fees, and even though she was successful in having the content taken down, added that it 'doesn’t stop the fact it is out there now'.

This isn't the first time the YouTuber has found images of herself online; last year she found content which was far less graphic than the deepfakes and was not pornographic, but she went to police to try and get it removed.

The YouTuber described deepfakes as 'anxiety-inducing'.

Unfortunately, Sunpi says she was told there was nothing police could do and that she needed to contact the site directly.

“They [the site] said they would investigate but I never heard anything from them," Sunpi said.

Given her poor experience in the past, Sunpi felt there 'was no point' contacting the authorities about the more recent deepfakes.

Describing the impact the creations have had on her, she said: "I find it hard to sleep because I want to search to see if there is any more. I keep waking up. I feel anxious. I keep googling my name and deepfake to check everything out there is gone.

“These days, if you wear a skirt people think you are asking for it and you deserve it. People say: ‘What do you expect, you wear miniskirts. You wear tight dresses’.

"It is very, very anxiety-inducing. Sometimes it makes you second guess yourself, you think ‘Am I doing something wrong for this to happen?’ But people have a right to wear what they want and to feel sexy without someone editing their pictures.”

Noting that it was frustrating to have to spend her own money to remove the deepfakes, Sunpi called for the creation of better mechanisms to request deepfakes or revenge porn to be removed from sites.

Sunpi has called for better systems for removal.

She used PornHub as an example of a site that gets it right, explaining that it has a tool she can use to get such videos taken down instantly.

“I feel like all sites should have that tool,” she said. “The law needs to be stronger to tackle this issue. A couple of months ago, there was a huge blow-up on a site which just had deepfake porn of gamers and so many of the women gamers were on there.”

The UK is attempting to crack down on deepfakes with an amendment to the Online Safety Bill which would mean distributors of deepfakes could potentially face prison time.

Deepfake laws in the US vary by state, with Davis Political Review reporting that Virginia, Texas, and California are the only states with legislation concerning deepfakes.

Topics: Technology, YouTube, Gaming, Crime