What is the 'Take It Down' Act? Texas bill seeks to ban deepfake revenge porn online

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Elliston Berry, a Texas high school student, was a victim of a deepfake revenge porn incident. According to WFAA, in October 2023, a student took her Instagram photos and plugged them into artificial intelligence, creating fake nude images of the 14-year-old girl. She said nine other classmates were victimized, too.

The fake photos spread on other social media apps, too. After months of trying to get Snapchat to remove the pictures, Berry and her mother approached lawmakers in Washington for help.

Within 24 hours, the accounts were taken down.

Surges of non-consensual intimate images on social media created by deepfakes have pushed lawmakers to get a federal bill targeting revenge porn signed into legislation.

Here is what we know about the “Take It Down" Act.

What is the 'Take It Down' Act in Texas?

Earlier this month, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz introduced the Tools to Address Known Exploitation by Immobilizing Technological Deepfakes on Websites and Networks (Take It Down) Act. The bill aims to protect and empower victims of non-consensual intimate image abuse — also known as “revenge pornography.”

The bill would criminalize the publication of non-consensual intimate imagery, including AI-generated pornography, and require social media and similar websites to have in place procedures to remove such content upon notification from a victim.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Jacky Rosen, D-Nev.; Ted Budd, R-N.C.; Laphonza Butler, D-Calif.; Todd Young, R-Ind.; Joe Manchin, I-W.Va.; John Hickenlooper, D-Colo.; Bill Cassidy, R-La. and Martin Heinrich, D-N. Mex., are also co-authors of this legislation.

What is a deepfake?

A deepfake is an artificial image, video or series of images generated by a special kind of machine learning called “deep” learning. According to the University of Virginia on Information Security, deepfake technology learns the same way a newborn would.

“Deep learning is similar to any kind of machine learning, where an algorithm is fed examples and learns to produce output that resembles the examples it learned from,” the university said. "Humans learn the same way; a baby might try eating random objects, and it quickly discovers what’s edible and what isn’t."

What else does the 'Take It Down' Act include?

Here are some other key points the bill aims to prevent:

  • The bill makes it unlawful for a person to knowingly publish or threaten to publish non-consensual intimate imagery on social media and other online platforms.

  • The bill permits the good faith disclosure of non-consensual intimate imagery, such as to law enforcement or for medical treatment.

  • Social media and other websites would be required to have in place procedures to remove "revenge porn," pursuant to a valid request from a victim, within 48 hours. Websites must also make reasonable efforts to remove copies of the images.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: What is the 'Take It Down' Act in Texas? Bill targets AI revenge porn