Deepfake videos – what you need to know this election season

In a recent deepfake, the fictional character Jon Snow (portrayed by actor Kit Harington) appeared to apologize for the final season of "Game of Thrones." Source: HBO; Manipulation, Benjamin Goggin

Augusta University has more than 80 experts on hand to help reporters cover a variety of topics. Here are some trending stories to consider this week:

A closer look at deepfakes during election season

Deepfakes … they’re eerie, entertaining and getting a lot of attention. Dr. Gregg R. Murray, professor of political science at Augusta University, is available to talk about the implications of this new threat.

According to The Sun, deepfake videos are made using artificial intelligence technology which can manipulate someone’s face and audio in a video to make it look like they are doing or saying something that they are not. It’s one level up from dubbing, or lip syncing, and can appear very convincing. One example is a video that was made using footage of Mark Zuckerburg in 2017, which falsely portrays the Facebook CEO discussing how he had stolen data.

As deepfakes become more common on social media and the internet, odds are they will make their way into the actual media. So, what can be done?

  • How will deepfake videos affect the perception of news media?
  • What simple advice can we apply to verify if something is real or fake?
  • Do these videos represent a threat to democracy, as some experts are saying?

Murray’s research focuses on political behavior and psychology with specific interests in voter mobilization and turnout. He is also executive director of the Association for Politics and the Life Sciences.

Anyone can experience PTSD

June is PTSD Awareness Month. It’s not just an affliction that affects soldiers and first responders – it can also impact anyone who may have been in an accident, experienced abuse or witnessed a tragedy.

Dr. Nagy Youssef, an expert in post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide prevention who treats civilians, active duty military and veterans, is available to talk about all aspects of this topic. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports:

  • About 7 or 8 out of every 100 people (or 7-8% of the population) will have PTSD at some point in their lives.
  • About 8 million adults have PTSD during a given year. This is only a small portion of those who have gone through a trauma.
  • About 10 of every 100 women (or 10%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives, compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%).

There is nothing new about PTSD, other than its terminology. In World War 1, it was labeled “shell shock” and many perceived it as a sign of weakness as opposed to an injury. But what about now?

  • Is acceptance of PTSD improving?
  • Does the stigma still stick with those looking to return to their careers?
  • Are there new and innovative ways to treat PTSD and how do they work?

Youssef is an associate professor of psychiatry at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. His research focuses on mechanistic and therapeutic innovation for treatment-resistant psychiatric disorders and suicide prevention. Youssef is also forming a study to better detect genetic markers associated with PTSD and resilience to trauma.

Contact our experts directly by clicking on the names above, or call 706-522-3023 to schedule an interview on any of these topics. Also, check out the Augusta University Expert Center to view a complete list of our experts.

Click to download photos of this week’s experts and a video of Dr. Gregg Murray.

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Written by
Heather Henley

Heather Henley is Director of News and Information at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-721-4706 or

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Written by Heather Henley

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