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Ukrainian woman gets deepfaked to find Chinese husbands, sell Russian goods

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A Ukrainian YouTuber is exposing the horrors of deepfakes on Chinese social media after learning that her image has been extensively cloned to sell Russian products and look for Chinese husbands.

How she found out: Olga Loiek, 20, a cognitive science major at the University of Pennsylvania, launched her self-empowerment YouTube channel in November 2023. In late January of 2024, she posted a video detailing her shocking deepfake discovery, which a follower had brought to her attention.

What she discovered: In her research, Loiek found countless AI-generated, Russian-posing and Chinese-speaking clones that primarily promoted China and Russia's relationship. Some of them sold Russian products, while others were out to seek Chinese husbands. One even promised viewers that “If you marry Russian women, we will wash clothes, cook and do dishes for you every day,” according to Voice of America.

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Where they are: Loiek said she found some of her clones on a platform called Xiaohongshu adopting names such as Natasha, April or Wendy and having followers that reach up to 140,000. Others appeared on Douyin and Bilibili.

What she’s saying: Loiek said the clones' messages infuriated her, especially with Ukraine being at war with Russia since 2022. “After all, my family has to hide during air raid sirens in Ukraine and hundreds of thousands of my fellow Ukrainians are getting displaced, injured or killed because of the Russian attacks,” she said in her video.

Since her discovery, Loiek and her subscribers have been reporting the fake accounts on their respective Chinese social media platforms. More than a dozen have reportedly been taken down, but the precise extent of their presence remains unknown.

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The big picture: Loiek's experience underscores the terrifying capabilities of deepfakes and the urgency for effective legal and technological measures to control them. In January last year, China released legislation to regulate deepfake content, prohibiting their creation without user consent and requiring due identification that they had been created using AI.

 

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