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Deepfake Explicit Images Of Taylor Swift Spread On Social Media. Her Fans Are Fighting Back

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NEW YORK — Pornographic deepfake photos of Taylor Swift are circulating online, making her the most visible victim of a problem that tech companies and anti-abuse organisations have struggled to address.

This week, sexually obscene and abusive, false photographs of Swift became viral on the social networking platform X.

Her devoted “Swifties” soon rallied, launching a counteroffensive on the platform formerly known as Twitter with a #ProtectTaylorSwift hashtag to flood it with more favourable images of the pop diva. Some said they were reporting accounts that were spreading deepfakes.

Reality Defender, a deepfake detection company, said it had tracked a flood of nonconsensual sexual material featuring Swift, particularly on X. Some photographs also made their way into Meta’s Facebook and other social media sites.

swift

Deepfake Explicit Images Of Taylor Swift Spread On Social Media. Her Fans Are Fighting Back

“Unfortunately, they spread to millions and millions of users by the time that some of them were taken down,” said Mason Allen, Reality Defender’s head of growth.

The researchers discovered at least a few dozen unique AI-generated photos. The most popular were football-related, depicting a painted or bleeding Swift, which objectified her and, in some cases, inflicted violence on her deepfake character.

According to researchers, the quantity of explicit deepfakes has increased in recent years as the technology for creating such images has become more accessible and user-friendly. These images primarily targeted women, according to a 2019 analysis by AI startup DeepTrace Labs. According to reports, the majority of the dead were South Korean K-pop singers and Hollywood actors.

Brittany Spanos, a senior writer at Rolling Stone who teaches a Swift course at New York University, says Swift’s fans quickly rally in favour of their artist, particularly those who take their devotion seriously and in cases of misconduct.

“This could be a huge deal if she does pursue it to court,” she said.

swift

Deepfake Explicit Images Of Taylor Swift Spread On Social Media. Her Fans Are Fighting Back

Spanos says Swift’s deep fake pornography issue is similar to others she has had in the past, citing her 2017 lawsuit against a radio station DJ who allegedly groped her; jurors awarded Swift $1 in damages, which her attorney, Douglas Baldridge, called “a single symbolic dollar, the value of which is immeasurable to all women in this situation” in the midst of the MeToo movement. (The $1 lawsuit became a pattern later, as seen in Gwyneth Paltrow’s 2023 countersuit against a skier.)

When asked for comment on the false Swift photographs, X linked The Associated Press to a post from its safety account, which stated that the firm strongly bans the distribution of nonconsensual nude images on its platform. Since Elon Musk took over the platform in 2022, the business has significantly reduced the size of its content-moderation teams.

“Our teams are actively removing all identified images and taking appropriate actions against the accounts responsible for posting them,” the business stated in an X post early Friday morning. “We’re closely monitoring the situation to ensure that any further violations are immediately addressed, and the content is removed.”

Meanwhile, Meta stated that it strongly opposes “the content that has appeared across different internet services” and is working to remove it.

“We continue to monitor our platforms for this violating content and will take appropriate action as needed,” the business stated.

A Swift spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment Friday.

Allen stated that the researchers are 90% certain that diffusion models made the images, a generative artificial intelligence model capable of producing fresh and photorealistic images from written instructions. The most well-known are Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, and OpenAI’s DALL-E. Allen’s group should have attempted to uncover the origins.

OpenAI stated that it had measures to prohibit the development of damaging information and “decline requests that ask for a public figure by name, including Taylor Swift.”

swift

Deepfake Explicit Images Of Taylor Swift Spread On Social Media. Her Fans Are Fighting Back

Microsoft, which provides an image generator based partly on DALL-E, said Friday that it looked into whether its product had been abused. Like other commercial AI services, it stated that it does not allow “adult or nonconsensual intimate content, and any repeated attempts to produce content that goes against our policies may result in loss of access to the service.”

When asked about the Swift deepfakes on “NBC Nightly News,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told anchor Lester Holt in an interview broadcast Tuesday that there is still more work to be done in terms of establishing AI protections and that “it behoves us to move fast on this.”

“Absolutely, this is alarming and terrible, and so therefore, yes, we have to act,” Nadella said in a statement.

Midjourney, OpenAI, and Stability AI, the makers of Stable Diffusion, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Federal politicians who have submitted proposals to increase restrictions or criminalise deepfake pornography said the event demonstrates why the United States has to establish stronger safeguards.

“For years, women have been victims of nonconsensual deepfakes, so what happened to Taylor Swift is more common than most people realise,” said U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, a Democrat from New York who has presented legislation requiring producers to digitally watermark deepfakes.

“Generative-AI is helping create better deepfakes at a fraction of the cost,” Clarke said.

U.S. Rep. Joe Morelle, another New York Democrat who is supporting a bill to criminalise the spreading of deepfake pornography online, said Swift’s situation was alarming and has grown increasingly common on the internet.

“The images may be fake, but the consequences are very real,” Morelle said. “Deepfakes are happening every day to women everywhere in our increasingly digital world, and it’s time to put a stop to them.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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2024: Bridgit Mendler, A Former Disney Actor Turned Space Startup CEO, Is Reaching For The Stars

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Bridgit Mendler, known for appearing on Good Luck Charlie and other Disney productions, is venturing into new territory: space.

Disney has effectively launched the careers of major stars such as Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez. However, one former child actor who starred on the network is pursuing a different venture: a space corporation.

mendler

Bridgit Mendler, A Former Disney Actor Turned Space Startup CEO, Is Reaching For The Stars

Bridgit, a 31-year-old singer and actor best known for her role as Teddy Duncan on the Disney Channel original series Good Luck Charlie, announced this week on X (formerly Twitter) that she is venturing into uncharted territory by launching Northwood Space, a California-based satellite data startup.

Bridgit will lead the company as CEO, while her husband, Gryphon Cleverly, whom she married in 2019, will serve as chief technical officer. “Expect the unexpected!” she posted on X, reacting to a CNBC reporter who broke the story.

According to Ari Eisenstat, the space programme director for the upcoming Texas Eclipse Festival, Bridgit’s venture into science “is a great example of space moving from the domain of governments to becoming accessible to everyone”. Eisenstadt adds that we should all look to “younger generations to see diverse entrepreneurs create social, economic, and environmental impact in the space community”.

According to Bridgit’s post on X, investors have already provided $6.3 million (£4.9 million) in preliminary funding for the startup to create “a data highway between Earth and space.” Mendler said, “We have a lot of work ahead of us, but that’s the fun part.”

While it may come as a surprise to her followers, Mendler has always had interests beyond performing. She graduated from the University of Southern California in 2016 and began working at the MIT Media Lab in 2017. She enrolled in the graduate programme in 2018 and will begin her doctorate in philosophy at MIT in 2020. The next year, Mendler enrolled at Harvard Law School.

mendler

Bridgit Mendler, A Former Disney Actor Turned Space Startup CEO, Is Reaching For The Stars

Then, Mendler told CNBC that the seed of the Northwood idea was planted while she was in New Hampshire during the COVID-19 lockdown. “While everyone else was preparing their sourdough starts, we created antennae from whatever we could find at Home Depot. For me, the ground side is important because it brings the effects of space closer to people. However, it wasn’t until she started working at the Federal Communications Commission in 2022 that she understood her new path: she told CNBC it was when she “completely fell in love with space law”.

Mendler’s big news has her admirers excited to follow up, and her X announcement currently has over 23,000 likes. Northwood Space, which plans to mass-produce massive terrestrial antennas that connect to satellites in space, says: “The one-lane rickety road for space data needs to adapt to a ten-lane highway routing continuous traffic across the globe.”And, as a woman in science who changed careers to pursue her ambition, Mendler is likely to inspire other women to make timely career changes.

mendler

Bridgit Mendler, A Former Disney Actor Turned Space Startup CEO, Is Reaching For The Stars

Laurie Bardon Syphard, an environmental science educator, says she’s impressed by Mendler’s credentials and is already excited about her new business. “My gut is telling me that she is going to go really far with this career in science and technology,” she adds, adding that the young scientist’s Disney admirers would most certainly keep an eye on her, especially given space is “one of the areas that just is exciting and inspires people”.

Mendler’s followers appear to agree and have taken to X to celebrate her continuous success. One fan wrote, “She’s Barbie. Like 12 different careers. Singer/songwriter, actor, Harvard PhD in law, MIT PHD student, startup CEO.”

SOURCE – (BBC)

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2024 OSCARS: Everything You Need To Know About This Year’s Oscars

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NEW YORK — After a winter of award events, including the Emmys, Golden Globes, and Grammys, the granddaddy of them all, the Academy Awards, is just around the horizon. The 96th Academy Awards may be a coronation for “Oppenheimer,” which leads with 13 nominations, but other films, including “Barbie,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” and “Poor Things,” are also in the running.

Here’s what you should know about this year’s show:

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When are the Oscars?

The Oscars will be on Sunday, March 10, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. The event will begin at 7 p.m. EDT, one hour earlier than normal, and will be live on ABC. The pre-show will begin at 6:30 p.m. EDT. This is an early reminder to set your clocks – the first day of daylight saving time in the United States.

Are the Oscars livestreamed?
You can access the show on ABC.com and the ABC app with a cable subscription. You may also watch on Hulu Live, YouTube, AT&T, and FuboTV.

Who is hosting the Oscars?
Jimmy Kimmel, who hosted the ceremony last year, will serve as emcee for the fourth time. That matches him with fellow four-timers Whoopi Goldberg and Jack Lemmon, leaving Kimmel trailing only Johnny Carson (five), Billy Crystal (nine), and Bob Hope (eleven) among Oscar hosts. “I always dreamed of hosting the Oscars exactly four times,” Kimmel told the audience.

What films are nominated for Best Picture at the 2024 Oscars?
The ten best-picture nominees are: “American Fiction,” “Anatomy of a Fall,” “Barbie,” “The Holdovers,” “Killers of the Flower Moon,” “Maestro,” “Oppenheimer,” “Past Lives,” “Poor Things,” and “The Zone of Interest.”

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Who are the favourites?

Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” is the front-runner. Nolan, the best director favourite, is expected to win his first Oscar. The best actress category could be a close call between Lily Gladstone (“Killers of the Flower Moon”) and Emma Stone (“Poor Things”). If Gladstone wins, she will be the first Native American to win an Oscar. Best actor might also be a tight call between Cillian Murphy (“Oppenheimer”) and Paul Giamatti (“The Holdovers”). They would be first-time winners. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Giamatti’s co-star, is the favourite to win Best supporting actress, while Robert Downey Jr. (“Oppenheimer”) is predicted to win Best Supporting Actor. Ryan Gosling is his closest competitor for “Barbie.”

What’s with the ‘Barbie’ snubs?
While “Barbie,” 2023’s largest box-office blockbuster, received eight nominations, much of the conversation has focused on the film’s lack of nominations. Greta Gerwig was not nominated for directing, while Margot Robbie did not win best actress. Some have detected reflections of the misogyny spoofed in “Barbie,” while others have noted comedians’ traditionally poor reception at the Oscars. The nominations for “Barbie” include best-adapted screenplay (by Gerwig and Noah Baumbach), best supporting actress (America Ferrera), and two best song nominees: Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For” and Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt’s “I’m Just Ken.”

oscars

Are there any changes to this year’s Oscars?

Though prior Oscars have been marred by slaps, envelope snafus, and debates about which prizes are presented live during the ceremony, this year’s show promises to remain relatively unchanged. All of the awards will be broadcast live. The academy is introducing a new award for best casting, but the trophy will be handed in at the 2026 Oscars.

What else is there to look for?
Composer John Williams has been nominated for his record 49th best-score Oscar for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and 54th overall. Godzilla is making his Oscar debut, with “Godzilla Minus One” nominated for outstanding visual effects. Two non-English language films are nominated for Best Picture for the first time: the German-language Auschwitz drama “The Zone of Interest” and the French courtroom drama “Anatomy of a Fall.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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Beatles To Get A Fab 4 Of Biopics, With A Movie Each For Paul, John, George And Ringo

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NEW YORK — The Beatles are receiving the big-screen biography treatment in not just one film but four, with each band member getting his spotlight – all directed by Sam Mendes.

For the first time, the Beatles, traditionally among the most stingy rights holders, are granting complete life and music rights to a film project. Sony Pictures revealed Monday a contract that may dwarf all previous music biopics, with the story of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr divided across four films.

The Mendes-conceived films are intended to be released theatrically in a unique manner, with the films coexisting or intersecting in theatres. Specific release plans will be communicated at a later date. Sony has set a release date of 2027.

beatles

Beatles To Get A Fab Four Of Biopics, With A Movie Each For Paul, John, George And Ringo

McCartney, Starr, and the families of John Lennon and George Harrison have all approved the initiative through the band’s Apple Corps. Ltd. Sony Music Publishing has rights to the majority of Beatles’ songs.

“I’m honoured to be telling the story of the greatest rock band of all time, and excited to challenge the notion of what constitutes a trip to the movies,” Mendes stated in an e-mail.

Each film will be told from the perspective of one of the Beatles.

“We intend this to be a uniquely thrilling and epic cinematic experience: four films, told from four different perspectives, which tell a single story about the most celebrated band of all time,” stated Pippa Harris, the film’s producer. “To have The Beatles’ and Apple Corps’ blessing to do this is an immense privilege.”

The Beatles’ most well-known film appearances were during their early career. From 1964 to 1970, they appeared in five films, including “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964) and the animated “Yellow Submarine” (1968). They have, of course, been the subject of numerous documentaries, most recently Peter Jackson’s 2021 “The Beatles: Get Back.”

beatles

Beatles To Get A Fab Four Of Biopics, With A Movie Each For Paul, John, George And Ringo

The Beatles reunited in 2023 using artificial intelligence in the newly released song “Now and Then.” The track was made feasible by technology employed by Jackson on “Get Back,” it included a music video directed by the New Zealand director.

Attempts to dramatise the Beatles’ narrative have been intermittent and less effective. A 1979 biography titled “The Birth of the Beatles” was developed while Lennon was still alive, with the Beatles’ original drummer, Pete Best, serving as an adviser. The 1994 indie drama “Backbeat” followed Lennon’s connection with Stuart Sutcliffe before the Beatles became famous. Aaron Taylor-Johnson portrayed a teenage Lennon in the 2009 “Nowhere Boy” film.

However, music biopics have become a lucrative business in the last decade. Box-office successes like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Rocketman,” and “Elvis” have prompted Hollywood executives to seek the next jukebox blockbuster. Over Presidents Day weekend, “Bob Marley: One Love,” co-produced with the Marley estate, was the top-grossing film in theatres. A Michael Jackson biopic is currently under production.

beatles

Beatles To Get A Fab Four Of Biopics, With A Movie Each For Paul, John, George And Ringo

“Theatrical film events today must be culturally significant. “Sam’s daring, large-scale idea is that and more,” said Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures’ Motion Picture Group.

The combination of Mendes’ crew “with the music and stories of four young men who changed the world, will rock audiences all over the globe,” Rothman added. “We are deeply grateful to all parties and look forward ourselves to breaking some rules with Sam’s uniquely artistic vision.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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