I felt numb – not sure what to do. How did deepfake images of me end up on a porn site?

  • October 28, 2023
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I hadn’t ever had cause to think about how manipulated online content could impact my life. Then, one winter morning, someone knocked at my door …

• Helen Mort’s experiences form the subject of a new Guardian documentary, My Blonde GF. Watch it here

There was an insistent knock at the door. This in itself was startling – it was the winter of 2020 and we hadn’t yet returned to socialising indoors after lockdown. I wasn’t expecting visitors. When I answered, I was surprised to see a male acquaintance of mine. He said he needed to speak to me. I knew it was something unprecedented because he asked to come in. He told me to sit down. That’s when the adrenaline started coursing through me – people only suggest that when they’re about to deliver bad news. My two-year-old son was at nursery and my first instinct was that something terrible must have happened to him. I could feel my heart thundering in my ribcage.

I don’t remember the exact words my friend used. But I can recall the gist of it and his obvious discomfort. What he told me was stranger than I could ever have imagined. He said that he had encountered images of me on a porn site: manipulated, faked images, my face on other bodies, galleries of pictures uploaded by someone who claimed to be my boyfriend. I didn’t know how to react. I had my arms very close to my sides and I was gripping the edge of the sofa. I was utterly confused – I’d never shared any intimate photo of myself with anyone. How had I ended up in DIY porn?

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