<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=996474224689458&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

Questions? Call Us (617) 712-0447

Why AI Will Lead to a Spike in Crisis Communications

Why AI Will Lead to a Spike in Crisis Communications

Evan Nierman is the Founder & CEO of Red Banyan, a global crisis PR firm, and author of The Cancel Culture Curse and Crisis Averted.

In an era where artificial intelligence (AI) wields unprecedented power, the proliferation of digitally altered media known as “deepfakes” poses a growing threat to individuals and businesses alike. The integration of AI tools into business offers unparalleled efficiency and innovation. But as AI technology evolves, so does risk that it will be misused, raising concerns about the manipulation of images and audio for illicit purposes.

Take the case of megastar Taylor Swift, whose image was reproduced in a digitally altered pornographic video. The self-made billionaire and cultural icon made international news after a slew of digitally altered pornographic images of her likeness were shared online. The deepfakes were viewed millions of times before the social media platforms took action and began removing them.

In October 2023, A-list actor Tom Hanks announced on national TV that his image had been hijacked for an unauthorized advertising campaign.

“BEWARE!! There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me,” actor Hanks announced. “I have nothing to do with it.”

A photo of the A-lister that appears to have been used for the ad’s AI modeling was posted online as far back as 2014. Welcome to the world of artificial intelligence, which expertly blurs the lines between fantasy and fact.

The message here is clear: if this could happen to these stars, then it could happen to any one of us, even if most of us are far less likely to prompt Internet users to seek out our nude pics, whether real or computer-generated. Among the uses for deepfakes? AI-generated porn, political propaganda and public shaming.

The use of fake imagery and audio in instances like the Swift example underscores the critical importance of crisis communications. Without a proactive crisis response plan in place, businesses or individuals that fall victim to the detrimental effects of malicious content may suffer lasting damage if they don’t act fast. This specialized branch of public relations is crucial to effectively manage emergencies and can mean the difference between success and failure during a crisis.

Here is how this cutting edge technology works: deepfakes leverage AI algorithms to superimpose the likeness of one individual onto that of another, or use voice recordings to create “fake audio” that mimics the target’s voice. The result is convincing yet fabricated videos and audio recordings that make it  extremely difficult to distinguish fact from fiction.

Detecting deepfakes requires a keen eye for detail and an understanding of the telltale signs of manipulation. Blurry details, artificial lighting discrepancies, and inconsistencies in audio-visual synchronization serve as red flags for potential deepfake content.

 Crisis Communications is Paramount in the World of AI

 In the event of a deepfake-related crisis, decisive action is paramount. Crisis communications professionals have the expertise and ability to mobilize and take action fast. From shaping the narrative to minimizing reputational damage, a savvy crisis communications expert can safeguard your brand's integrity amidst the chaos of misinformation.  Drawing on their unique skillset and extensive experience, they will guide the strategy and take immediate action with the press, in social media, and with stakeholders to control and mitigate the crisis. In the crisis realm, the main benefit a crisis PR specialist can provide is experience. You want someone who has worked on similar cases and is attuned to all potential outcomes. The other absolute necessity is speed because, time is of the essence.

Education and enhanced cybersecurity measures are two ways to help protect against bad actors and deceptive content. Regularly monitoring social media channels and proactively engaging with stakeholders may also enhance the resilience of your organization in the face of these new challenges.

Preparedness in the Face of Uncertainty

 As the prevalence of deepfakes continues to rise, the need for effective crisis communication strategies becomes increasingly apparent. By embracing proactive measures and fostering a culture of vigilance, businesses can navigate the complexities of AI with confidence. Companies that prepare for the worst and establish a crisis response plan before they need one reduce the risk associated with of deepfakes and take back control of the narrative.

New call-to-action