Will deepfake AI content influence the 2024 election?

AI-generated deepfakes showing Donald Trump making a run from authorities and being arrested have flooded Twitter ahead of the former presidentâÂÂs possible indictment this week.
AI-generated deepfakes showing Donald Trump making a run from authorities and being arrested have flooded Twitter ahead of the former presidentâÂÂs possible indictment this week.

Nearly half of American voters believe AI-generated content will negatively impact the outcome of 2024 elections (43%), according to a recent poll.

The survey of 2,000 registered American voters revealed not only that people are increasingly pessimistic about a political digital-verse full of deepfakes, but also that people can’t distinguish between AI-generated content and human-created content.

Nearly half of American voters believe deep fakes will have a negative impact on the 2024 presidential election. silerabbit/Twitter
Nearly half of American voters believe deep fakes will have a negative impact on the 2024 presidential election. silerabbit/Twitter

As part of the study, respondents were asked to differentiate between AI-generated images and human-created images and the majority misidentified all AI images as human-created.

On average, only a third of respondents (33%) were able to correctly spot AI-generated images.

The majority of respondents misidentified AI generated images as human created. SWNS
The majority of respondents misidentified AI generated images as human created. SWNS

Comparisons between AI audio and a human voice were not more promising. When an audio clip with an AI voice was played, a fifth of respondents (20%) were unsure if it was human or AI, while 41% believed the AI voice was authentically human.

Commissioned by Yubico, in partnership with Defending Digital Campaigns, and conducted by OnePoll, the study found that politics is the number one media sector that has been negatively affected by deepfakes (AI-generated content intended to mislead), according to respondents.

Over three-fourths (78%) are worried about AI-generated content being used to impersonate political candidates and spread misinformation and 45% say they’re “very concerned” about this issue.

Almost half (49%) of respondents tend to question whether political videos, interviews, and ads online are real or are deepfake content.

And seven in ten (70%) are worried that authentic and truthful political information will be lost amongst misinformation online.

78% are worried AI generated images of political candidates are being used to spread misinformation. Twitter / Eliot Higgins
78% are worried AI generated images of political candidates are being used to spread misinformation. Twitter / Eliot Higgins

“In addition to the threat of AI and deep fakes spreading misinformation, 85% of respondents don’t have a high level of confidence that political campaigns effectively protect their personal information,” said David Treece, vice president of solutions architecture at Yubico.

“This can have detrimental effects on a campaign, as a loss in trust for a campaign could mean voters avoid getting involved with the electoral process, from withholding donations, to even going as far as not voting for the candidate. It’s imperative that candidates take proper steps to protect their campaign and more importantly, to build trust with voters, by adopting modern cybersecurity practices like multi-factor authentication.”

Only 1/3 of people could correctly identify AI-generated images. SWNS
Only 1/3 of people could correctly identify AI-generated images. SWNS

Respondents said their top cybersecurity concerns during the 2024 election season were that a politician they support will be successfully hacked spreading false information and opinions (24%) and that political campaigns don’t take cybersecurity seriously enough in general (24%).

To remedy this, registered voters would like to see campaigns and candidates taking precautions to prevent their websites from being hacked (42%), using strong security measures like multi-factor authentication on their accounts (41%), and creating cybersecurity protocols and staff training (38%).

49% of people question is political content is real or AI-generated. SWNS
49% of people question is political content is real or AI-generated. SWNS

Only 15% have a high level of confidence that political campaigns effectively protect the personal information they collect.

In fact, more than two in five respondents (43%) say they’ve shared personal information with a company or organization that’s been hacked.

The top concerns of respondents are that a politician could be hacked and used to spread false information and opinions. SWNS
The top concerns of respondents are that a politician could be hacked and used to spread false information and opinions. SWNS

And of the 60% of registered voters who have donated to a political campaign, 42% have not completed a donation transaction online due to concern about the security of the transaction and how their personal information would be handled.

Nearly a third (30%) doubt that campaigns meet their expectations for implementing cybersecurity standards to protect their personal information.

85% of respondents don’t feel that political campaigns can effectively protect the personal information they collect. SWNS
85% of respondents don’t feel that political campaigns can effectively protect the personal information they collect. SWNS

Public perception in this area has had a big influence on electoral outcomes: 36% of respondents said their opinion of a candidate would change if the candidate experienced a cybersecurity incident, like their email being hacked.

Forty-two percent of those who have donated to a campaign said their likelihood of donating again would change if the campaign was hacked and 30% report this would even change the likelihood of a candidate receiving their vote.

42% of people who donated to a campaign say a hack would impact their decision to donate again. SWNS
42% of people who donated to a campaign say a hack would impact their decision to donate again. SWNS

“Political campaigns are targets for bad actors including nation states, cybercriminals, and hacktivists. Given the high stakes this election year, the risks are even greater,” said Michael Kaiser, president and CEO of Defending Digital Campaigns.

“The entire campaign staff — from the candidate down to the volunteers — should understand that they are targets and protect themselves and the campaign with the right cybersecurity tools and technology. Any breach can throw an entire campaign off course and consume precious time as the clock ticks toward election day. As this important poll shows, voters have high expectations about how campaigns protect their information.”

30% say a hack would even impact the candidate receiving their vote. SWNS
30% say a hack would even impact the candidate receiving their vote. SWNS

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of Americans who are registered to vote was commissioned by Yubico, in partnership with Defending Digital Campaigns, between Feb. 13 and Feb. 182024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).