‘I had to pay to get deepfake porn removed of me’: Presenter reveals the dark side of being a female gamer

Exclusive: ‘If you wear a skirt people think you are asking for it and you deserve it,’ Sunpi says

Maya Oppenheim
Women’s Correspondent
Monday 10 April 2023 16:45 BST
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<p>‘Deepfakes’ refer to explicit images or videos which have been manipulated to look like someone without their consent</p>

‘Deepfakes’ refer to explicit images or videos which have been manipulated to look like someone without their consent

A successful female gamer has spoken about the trauma of discovering deepfake online porn of herself and the urgent and costly moves needed to remove it.

Sunpi, who has over 117,000 YouTube followers, told The Independent that she was forced to spend about £500 on legal fees to get the content taken down.

Deepfakes refer to explicit images or videos which have been manipulated to look like someone without their consent – distributing them will soon be made illegal, the government announced last November.

Sunpi, a 29-year-old presenter, said a fan alerted her to the deepfakes at the end of March. She could not bring herself to watch the video, she explained.

The influencer said: “My heart just dropped. I felt ashamed and disgusted. I rang my mum and cried. She was really, really angry.

“I looked at the pictures, and oh my god, they looked so real. You don’t want to show people, even though you are not showing yourself. It’s taking away power from me. If I wanted to put that content out I would.”

Sunpi explained even though she has paid lawyers to take down the deepfakes, this “doesn’t stop the fact it is out there now”.

She found images of herself last year but these were far less graphic and were not pornographic, she recalled, noting she went to the police at the time.

Instead, she was told there was nothing they could do and she must contact the site directly, she said. “They said they would investigate but I never heard anything from them.”

The influencer said she felt like “there was no point” in contacting the police this time given her poor experience previously.

Sunpi added: “I find it hard to sleep because I want to search to see if there is anymore. I keep waking up. I feel anxious. I keep googling my name and deepfake to check everything out there is gone.

“These days, if you wear a skirt people think you are asking for it and you deserve it. People say: ‘What do you expect, you wear miniskirts. You wear tight dresses’.

“It is very, very anxiety-inducing. Sometimes it makes you second guess yourself, you think ‘Am I doing something wrong for this to happen?’ But people have a right to wear what they want and to feel sexy without someone editing their pictures.”

She said gamers are “stereotyped” and “expected” to dress in a certain way and people wrongly presume she is looking for attention due to the clothes she chooses to wear.

Sunpi said it was annoying spending her own money to get the deepfakes removed, adding she thinks mechanisms should exist to request deepfakes or revenge porn to be removed from sites.

She explained her gaming content from YouTube gets uploaded by users to leading pornographic website PornHub but the site has a tool she can use to get the videos instantly taken down.

“I feel like all sites should have that tool,” she added. “The law needs to be stronger to tackle this issue. A couple of months ago, there was a huge blow-up on a site which just had deepfake porn of gamers and so many of the women gamers were on there.”

Sunpi said she felt like some men in gaming think women have it easy despite the fact the highest-paid gamers are men – adding some male gamers wrongly assume women in the industry are faking their interest.

“They think once off the camera we have no interest in games,” she explained. “My whole life is games – it is offensive when they say that.”

Sunpi noted a man had been sectioned for stalking her which had led to her feeling anxious in her hometown as she said she now has cameras installed all around her house.

She said: “I don’t really look at my direct messages that often anymore. I get a lot of lovely support but I also get either nasty or really sexual messages. Ones like ‘I’m watching you’, ‘I’m in your town’ or ‘I’m in your country’.

“There will be long threads – it’s like they think they are in a relationship with you. They will say ‘You looked really nice, it was nice to spend time with you today’, but we have had zero interaction.”

Police and prosecutors will be given more power to hold perpetrators to account under an amendment to the Online Safety Bill, with the distributors of deepfakes now potentially facing prison time under the suggested measures.

Many have sounded alarm bells about how deepfakes can mislead members of the public, and previous research conducted by cybersecurity firm Deeptrace indicated around 96 per cent of all deepfake videos are non-consensual porn, while women are targets in 96 per cent of cases.

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