The Rise of Deepfakes Demands Legislative Action

Women represent 99 percent of those targeted by deepfake “pornography,” which makes up 98 percent of all deepfake videos online. In 2023 alone, the volume of deepfake abuse videos surpassed the total of all previous years combined, with the number of nonconsensual videos doubling annually.

Those nonconsensual images are created and shared with the goal of humiliating and degrading the women and girls in them. The fallout is immense, and it goes beyond personal harm. The silencing effect leads to people stepping back from vital arenas like politics, journalism and public discourse. But that’s the point of this misogyny, isn’t it? It’s gender-based violence at its core.

Urgent action is needed, and effective legislation is a critical starting point.

War on Women Report: Anti-Abortion Group Tracks Planned Parenthood Visits; Texas Man Will Spend Five Months in Jail for Slipping Pregnant Wife Abortion Pill

U.S. patriarchal authoritarianism is on the rise, and democracy is on the decline. But day after day, we stay vigilant in our goals to dismantle patriarchy at every turn. The fight is far from over. We are watching, and we refuse to go back. This is the War on Women Report.

Since our last report: Modern surveillance tools pose an increasing threat to pregnant people and those helping them access care; a groundbreaking study proving the safety and effectiveness of telehealth abortion; in rare bipartisan move, Congress expanded the child tax credit for the next three years, lifting 400,000 children above the poverty line by 2025; rest in power, Nex Benedict; and more.

Private Equity Firms Profit Off the Backs of Working Women and Families

If you’ve ever wondered whatever happened to iconic U.S. businesses like Sears and Friendly’s Ice Cream, Samsonite Luggage and Zales’ Jewelry, or even Toys-R-Us, you’ll find distressing answers in Brendan Ballou’s Plunder: Private Equity’s Plan to Pillage America and Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner’s These are the Plunderers: How Private Equity Runs—and Wrecks—America. Both books describe private equity firms’ largely secret and little understood 40-year-long hit-and-run scam.

If you’re worried about the deteriorating appearance of downtown areas, hospitals or the housing market, if you’ve noticed a growing shabbiness, or if you’ve notice the government’s indifference, these books will help explain not only what’s wrong, but what we ordinary people can and must do to stop the steal—the real steal.

If It Can Happen to Taylor Swift, It Can Happen to Any of Us

A few days ago, TIME’s Person of the Year was the victim of a deepfake pornographic attack.

Swift likely experienced the same nauseating feeling that many other women did when she saw her face plastered on nude bodies and virtually defiled by the public. And Swift’s lawyers will struggle to find satisfactory legal recourse. Taylor Swift was the victim of our lawless internet, where platforms can entirely evade a duty of care to their users. So were countless women before her.

Restricting Access to Information Online Won’t Keep Teens Safe. It Will Only Erode Democratic Rights

Well-meaning legislative proposals to protect young people undermine a key factor in teens’ development: independence. Proposed legislation at the federal and state levels increasingly mandates parental monitoring of all kids, including even older teenagers, which undermines teenagers’ independence—something that healthcare experts say is critical for young people’s development and mental health and parents want too.

Providing teenagers with tools to protect themselves, along with options to get parental help when needed, can go much further in creating a safe environment online.

Not Helpless, Not Silenced: What to Do if You Are Experiencing or Witnessing Online Abuse

Online abuse can feel like an enormous, insurmountable problem, but we are not helpless, and we refuse to be silent. Together we can fight back to make the internet safer, more equitable and more free.

Here’s what to do if you are facing online abuse; if you are witnessing online abuse; if you manage people who face online abuse; or you want to push the tech industry to do better.

Rape Threats, Misogynist Slurs, Sexual Harassment and Doxing: How Online Abuse Is Used to Intimidate, Discredit and Silence

Eighty-five percent of women globally have witnessed online harassment and nearly 40 percent have experienced it directly.

Online abuse is made to feel targeted, personal, individual and organic—when in fact it’s often systemic, strategic and coordinated. Online abuse is one part of a broader spectrum of attacks—digital, physical, legal and psychological—intended to push women and nonbinary individuals offline, out of public discourse and out of their fields of expertise. Regardless of where they live and what they do, the goal is universal: to stop them from doing their jobs and shut them up.

(This article originally appears in the Winter 2024 issue of Ms. Join the Ms. community today and you’ll get issues delivered straight to your mailbox!)

We Have to Stop Calling it ‘Revenge Porn’

Susanna Gibson’s losing bid for the Virginia House of Delegates has largely retreated from headlines, as newly elected legislators are sworn in at statehouses around the country. What most people will likely remember about her candidacy, if they remember it at all, is that Gibson was involved in a “sex tape” scandal. The reality is that Gibson was a victim of what is colloquially (and inaccurately) referred to as “revenge porn”—a term that is negatively influencing how this destructive criminal behavior against women is perceived and punished by society.

The term “revenge porn” gives the mistaken impression that the crime should be defined based on whether the perpetrator intended harm. No matter what a perpetrator’s reason for distributing the images, the person depicted is profoundly harmed by their release.

Shine Your Light: Reflections on ‘Renaissance: A Film by Beyoncé’

Renaissance—Beyoncé Knowles-Carter’s fifth self-directed film—is about how to shine your light, how to give others shine, and how to sit in darkness until the light comes again.

In this season of light, we have a tremendous opportunity to observe a Black woman in her prime at 42 years old making art, working at her craft, raising her children, and surrounded by a strong network.