New Mexico Official Works to Raise Awareness of Deepfakes

(TNS) — With election season poised to start, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver is trying to make the public more aware of the ways deepfakes and artificial intelligence can be used to manipulate election information.

The primary elections will be June 4 and early voting begins Tuesday.

What is a deepfake?


Deepfakes are photos, videos or audio recordings that have been digitally altered — typically by using generative artificial intelligence — to imitate someone else’s likeness or voice. Deepfakes typically seem real, which can make it difficult for the viewer or listener to realize the video or audio is not.

The technology can be used to blackmail or discredit someone. A recent example is a high school athletic director in Maryland who used artificial intelligence to impersonate the school’s principal in an audio recording with racist comments.

Why do NM voters need to be informed?

“A big fear would be like something that happened in New Hampshire during the primary,” Toulouse Oliver said.

Voters received robocalls with a fake message in an imitation of President Joe Biden’s voice that they did not need to vote in the primary.

This is likely the first election where there could be an abundance of malicious AI-generated content, Toulouse Oliver said. There could be misinformation both about elections administration and about candidates.

Is misinformation on the rise in NM?

There are not any examples yet of deepfakes being used in New Mexico to spread election misinformation, according to Toulouse Oliver.

“Hopefully, just increasing awareness and requiring disclosure as we do now, thanks to a recent law passed by the Legislature, will heavily discourage any of that potential activity. But if it were to happen, we’re hoping that forewarned is forearmed,” Toulouse Oliver said.

HB 182 was signed into law in March and requires political campaigns to disclose when AI is used in ads.

But general election mistrust and misinformation has increased in New Mexico, beginning in 2020, Toulouse Oliver said.

A notable example was in 2022 when someone posted on social media that the governor had canceled early voting.

“By the time we became aware of it, it had been posted for about an hour, and already, we knew that 45,000 New Mexicans had already looked at that or interacted with it and that a couple thousand people had reposted it,” Toulouse Oliver said.

Much of the misinformation election officials are seeing is general mistrust, with allegations that elections are rigged or that ballots are not private, she said.

The Secretary of State’s Office is encouraging New Mexicans to report misinformation or deepfakes related to elections or candidates via email to elections@sos.nm.gov. More information on how to determine if something is AI generated is available at www.sos.nm.gov/ai.

© 2024 the Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, N.M.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Originally Appeared Here

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