Cheap fake

A cheap fake is altered media that has been changed through conventional and affordable technology. Social media examples of cheap fake techniques include photoshopping (including face swapping), lookalikes, as well as speeding and slowing video. A cheap fake is easier to produce than a deep fake, which requires advanced technology and machine learning. 1

NPR reported that the effectiveness of cheap fakes, for the most part, kept deep fakes out of the 2020 presidential election.2 Who needs to spend money on AI when basic photoshopping will do? Unlike deep fakes, cheap fakes are common. In August 2020, a video of Nancy Pelosi was slowed down to make it appear like she was intoxicated. A video with the same claim went viral in May 2019. The 2019 post originated on TikTok and was posted to YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Facebook did not remove the post, but the other three platforms did. 3

  • 1Britt Paris and Joan Donovan, “Deepfakes and Cheap Fakes” (Data and Society Research Institute, September 18, 2019),
  • 2Tim Mak and Dina Temple-Raston, “Where Are The Deepfakes In This Presidential Election?” NPR, October 1, 2020,
  • 3Hannah Denham, “Another Fake Video of Pelosi Goes Viral on Facebook,” Washington Post, August 3, 2020,