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Just Joking Report

Around the world, deepfakes are becoming a powerful tool for artists, satirists and activists. But what happens when vulnerable people are not “in on the joke,” or when malign intentions are disguised as humor?

This report focuses on the fast-growing intersections between deepfakes and satire. Who decides what’s funny, what’s fair, and who is accountable? The report analyses more than seventy recent cases of a wide range of deepfakes. Some are examples of potent satire, art, or activism, from mocking authoritarian leaders to synthetically resurrecting victims of injustice to demand action. But others demonstrate how bad actors use comedy as both a sword and a shield, to glorify the powerful and attack marginalized communities, while seeking to escape culpability.

Just Joking! is part of a continuing collaboration between Co-Creation Studio at MIT Open Documentary Lab and the human rights, video and technology network WITNESS. WITNESS’s ‘Prepare, Don’t Panic’ initiative ( pursues a globally inclusive human rights lead approach to deepfakes, authenticity and media manipulation.