My Tweet About AI Porn Went Viral, And What It Taught Me Was Upsetting
we've all reacted to the AI porn that portrays people who don’t actually exist. but what would your reaction be if the face on the fake porn was yours?
The arrival of mature artificial intelligence promises no shortage of miraculous possible future technologies, from the virtual assistant who saves your life to the perfect, free doctor, adaptive learning at scale, and the one-man media company 1,000 clones strong. But it is also now possible to simulate realistic photos, of real human beings, in any scenario you can imagine. Let’s translate that to the language of our gutter internet: you can now look at pictures of anyone you know — celebrity, enemy, girlfriend of your very best friend — having sex. We have absolutely no idea how to manage the cultural fallout of this phenomenon.
An internet drama surrounding several social media influencers embroiled in a sexfake controversy is now catching fire across Twitch and Twitter. It is a bizarre, and incredibly important story for some reason entirely ignored by the press. Perhaps because most “tech” reporters have no idea what artificial intelligence even is, let alone what the arrival of artificial intelligence means.
In any case, we’re on it. River Page reports.
Earlier this week, Twitch Streamer Atrioc faced a backlash for purchasing AI deepfake porn of two fellow streamers, one of whom was the massively popular Pokimane. The ensuing controversy spiked traffic to the site where the deepfakes were being sold, leading to other female Twitch streamers noticing that the creator of the Pokimane deepfakes had also made porn featuring their likenesses. In the aftermath, one such streamer, QTCinderella, went live on Twitch, where she cried throughout the entire three-minute stream, choked on her words, repeatedly said she knew she shouldn’t be doing this, but that she “want[ed] to show people what pain looks like.” The video was raw.
“Fuck the fucking internet. Fuck Atroic for showing it to thousands of people. Fuck the people DMing me pictures of myself from that website. Fuck you all! This is what it looks like, this is what the pain looks like.” She weeped, her face red, tears streaming down.
“To the person that made that website, I’m going to fucking sue you. I promise you, with every part of my soul I’m going to fucking sue you. That’s all I have to say, I know I shouldn’t have gone live. But I couldn’t do it. I’m so exhausted and I think you guys need to know what pain looks like ‘cause this is it. This is what it looks like to feel violated. This is what it feels like to be taken advantage of, this is what it looks like to see yourself naked against your will being spread all over the internet. This is what it looks like.”
There was no catharsis. She ended the stream looking just as wounded as she did at the start. You can tell she hadn’t slept much before the stream, and wouldn’t sleep much after. It was brutal.
The video affected me deeply. I felt awful for her, and assumed everyone would. But when I logged onto Twitter later that day, this clearly wasn’t the case. Someone had posted a screengrab from the same video I’d just seen with the caption “Millionaire internet streamer's reaction to AI porn of herself. You won't find more fragile people than popular internet personalities (especially women).” Bewildered, I quote tweeted it, saying — hyperbolically — that “if you can’t understand why someone would feel violated and upset by this you should be in jail.” The tweet went viral, which was a surprise for me. I had originally been working on a piece exploring AI’s potential impact on the porn industry, as told by porn creators, and that’s still forthcoming, but the sheer number of responses to my tweet created what amounts to a virtual focus group on deepfake porn, and the results are worth exploring.