About Gibi: Gibi is a Youtuber and ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) artist with over 3.7 million subscribers on her YouTube channel. She has been repeatedly targeted by deepfakes and online harassment. Things became so serious that she had to change her name and move home, and she now has to be extremely vigilant about not revealing any potentially identifying information.
My deepfakes have been around ever since I started my YouTube channel. I’ve seen how it has gotten very good so that makes me extremely nervous because I know how fast technology can advance. When I first saw a deepfake, I was reading about how the computer learns and gets better at matching your face and putting it onto something pornographic. Watching the videos is very surreal – people believe it’s real.
The thing that bothers me is I did not consent for my image to be used that way, they are able to do it with no consequences and it feels very violating. I contemplated deleting my channel because I felt very overwhelmed by these people that I didn’t know that seemed to want to hurt me, to make me feel horrible, violate my privacy, and feel power over me. But it’s something that I just keep working through and I do my best to protect my privacy.
Do I ever feel safe? Not really! It started very early on, I had barely any following and I learned my lesson quickly. They figured out my real name, where I lived, who my family was, where I went to school, and they posted it everywhere.
I have been very paranoid, nervous, fearful, and have had a few bad anxiety attacks in public when I thought I might be unsafe. I’m thinking about it constantly – making sure that you don’t slip up, that people don’t know where you are, you can’t let people know your family. It’s a way of life now but I would never say that I feel safe on the internet, ever.
I used to keep tabs on the deepfakes until it felt useless, if you let it consume you it’s gonna waste your time and that’s not what I want. They will make more and more of me and it doesn’t do me any good to watch them, so I’ve stopped for my own sanity.
I don’t seek them out but I try to keep tabs on what’s being posted about me across the internet. I’m trying to do my daily job so I’ll end up in an anonymous forum or random page, and porn of me is littered in with that. Sometimes people will email them to me, like “Gibi, somebody made porn of you!”
I get why people watch, they think it’s victimless. But obviously I don’t want people to see it, and if there’s less demand there would be less videos. One time I saw somebody was doing commissions, making money off my doctored photos and videos. They’re running this business, profiting off of my face doing something that I didn’t consent to, like my suffering is your livelihood. It made me really mad, but again, there was nothing I could do so I just had to leave it.
I was approached by a company taking deepfakes off the internet. I’m like “Oh, great!” And they sent me their prices and it’s exorbitant: $600 to take a video off a deepfake website. Why should I be using my hard-earned money to be paying you to privately take down these videos?
I think that lawmakers and governments are extremely overwhelmed by the internet so they just let it go. If somebody’s making a deepfake in a different country, my country doesn’t care because there’s nothing they can do. I can’t think of a single organization equipped to deal with this, and that’s why it feels very helpless.
For me, justice would be not letting them be anonymous anymore. It’s much too easy to make yourself anonymous online where law enforcement doesn’t care enough to put in the effort to find out who’s doing it. I would like to know who is making pornographic content from my own face. They know me. OK, what’s your name? Where do you work? It just seems very unbalanced and unfair right now.
Being a woman on the internet is hard because of the lack of policing, the lack of laws. Putting yourself on the internet means you’re not protected. It’s a choice I wish that I didn’t have to make – that if I want to continue my career. If somebody asks, “Hey I want to be a YouTuber!” it sucks that I have to tell them “you need to protect yourself because people will come after you, because this is part of the job.” And I hate that it’s part of the job, it’s disturbing and it shouldn’t be OK.
This story was shared as part of our 2021 report, Ending Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Women and Girls: A Call for International Standards.