Why Guy Sebastian, tho? Deepfake ads on X undermine Elon Musk’s vision for an ad-free platform

A sad idol winner and weight loss gummies seem to be the ultimate clickbait fodder – whether or not X can navigate this minefield of deepfakes is crucial in shaping its future

Elon Musk‘s vision for X (formerly Twitter) includes an ad-free option for subscribers, aiming to curb user fatigue and attract more paying members.

However, this ambition collides with the growing problem of deepfakes, particularly those featuring Guy Sebastian, raising concerns about misinformation and potential harm.

Musk has announced two new subscription tiers for X: one cheaper with full ads, and a pricier, “Premium+” tier promising an ad-free experience. This move reflects his belief that ads detract from user engagement and could drive people to paid subscriptions.

However, the success of this strategy hinges on several factors, including the pricing of the ad-free tier and whether users perceive the value to be worth it.

Meanwhile, X has become a breeding ground for deepfakes, manipulated videos often used to spread misinformation or discredit individuals. One prominent example involves Australian singer Guy Sebastian. His likeness has been used in deepfake ads for cryptocurrency scams, general fake news coverage (in handcuffs) among a stack of other fraudulent news stories.

These deepfakes, often indistinguishable from reality, can mislead users and have real-world consequences like financial loss or reputational damage.

To say that combating deepfakes on X is complex is putting it mildly. Detecting them requires sophisticated technology and continuous human oversight.

Additionally, removing deepfakes while respecting freedom of expression poses a delicate balance. The platform faces backlash if it oversteps boundaries, but inaction against harmful content can erode trust and user safety.

Musk’s ad-free vision raises questions about how X will handle advertising revenue and content moderation. The proliferation of deepfakes like those of Guy Sebastian further complicates the platform’s future.

To succeed, X must create a sustainable business model that balances user experience, financial viability, and content integrity.

This includes investing in deepfake detection and prevention, collaborating with content creators like Sebastian, and establishing clear policies for addressing misinformation.

It will be interesting to watch the delicate dance between Musk’s ad-free aspirations and the perils of manipulated content places the platform at a crossroads. Striking the right balance between monetization, freedom of expression, and safeguarding user trust is paramount.