SAG-AFTRA issued a statement on Friday addressing the sexually explicit AI-generated images of Taylor Swift, which provoked intense backlash online earlier this week. Around the same time, the White House also released a statement on the issue.
The actor’s union called the deepfake images “upsetting, harmful, and deeply concerning.” The images portrayed the singer in various sexualized positions while partially dressed in Kansas City Chiefs merch and surrounded by Chiefs fans (ostensibly a reference to her relationship with Chiefs tight end, Travis Kelce).
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“The development and dissemination of fake images — especially those of a lewd nature — without someone’s consent must be made illegal,” the union’s statement continued. “As a society, we have it in our power to control these technologies, but we must act now before it is too late.”
SAG-AFTRA’s statement comes on the heels of their union’s freshly minted deal with the studios, for which protection against artificial intelligence became an intense sticking point during their 118-day strike. The contract, signed in November, cited the establishment of a “broad, protective” definition of generative AI, alongside guidelines for notice, consent and compensation surrounding digital replicas of actors. The contract also included a first-of-its-kind acknowledgment of “the importance of human performance in motion pictures and the potential impact on employment.”
Still, the contract was criticized by some members of SAG-AFTRA for not pushing for even further protections.
On Friday, the union’s statement finished with support for Preventing Deepfakes of Intimate Images Act, brought forward by Congressman Joe Morelle, “to make sure we stop exploitation of this nature from happening again. We support Taylor, and women everywhere who are the victims of this kind of theft of their privacy and right to autonomy,” the statement finished.
SAG’s stance released around the same that White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a news briefing that the images of Swift were “very alarming.”
“Too often, we know that lax enforcement disproportionately impacts women,” Jean-Pierre continued.
“While social media companies make their own independent decisions about content management, we believe they have an important role to play in enforcing, enforcing their own rules to prevent the spread of misinformation, and non consensual, intimate imagery of real people,” Jean-Pierre said, citing the President’s implementation of “the first national 24/7 helpline for survivors of image-based sexual abuse,” which launched this fall.
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