Not far from a frenzy of screaming tweens chasing online video stars, in a glass building overlooking Disneyland, VidCon will introduce a new celebrity to its pantheon: video forgeries known as deepfakes. But the ability to manipulate video to make anyone do, well, anything, people may instead be running in fear.
VidCon, which starts in earnest Thursday, is the world’s biggest conference of online video and digital creators, but it’s best known for its swarms of fans. About 75,000 people are expected to attend this year, most of them preteens, teens and their parents overrunning the Anaheim, California, convention center in the hope of a close encounter with an online idol. Pockets of the immense crowds tend to spontaneously combust into a screaming mob at the hint of an influencer nearby.
But this year, at the moment the expo halls open, the first thing on VidCon’s agenda is a presentation about the risks of deepfakes as part of the an industry-focused track of panels and keynotes.