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How Rep. AOC Confronted Trauma After Deepfake Porn Attack

HomeU.S.How Rep. AOC Confronted Trauma After Deepfake Porn Attack

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) recently opened up about the disturbing experience of inadvertently viewing realistic AI-generated deepfake pornographic images depicting herself. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, the congresswoman candidly discussed the psychological harm caused by this kind of non-consensual digital exploitation.

The Unsettling Discovery

The incident occurred in February while Ocasio-Cortez was in the middle of a legislative meeting with her staff. As she scrolled through her feed on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), she unexpectedly came across the deeply unsettling deepfake porn images.

“There’s a shock to seeing images of yourself that someone could think are real,” AOC told Rolling Stone. “As a survivor of physical sexual assault, it adds a level of dysregulation. It resurfaces trauma, while I’m trying to…in the middle of a f–king meeting.”

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The Lasting Trauma

For the 33-year-old representative, the vivid fakery triggered distressing memories tied to her past experiences of sexual violence. She explained that certain horrific visuals become indelibly etched into a victim’s psyche in a way that transcends intellectual awareness of their artificial nature.

“There are certain images that don’t leave a person, they can’t leave a person,” Ocasio-Cortez said, highlighting the human brain’s inability to easily compartmentalize deeply disturbing imagery encountered online as somehow less real or impactful.

Raising Awareness of Dangers

Through her candid account, the congresswoman hopes to raise awareness about the serious psychological harm caused by the non-consensual creation and dissemination of explicit deepfake content. She fears such damaging disinformation could devastate mental health and potentially drive victims to self-harm or suicide, especially vulnerable youth.

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“Kids are going to kill themselves over this,” Ocasio-Cortez warned. “People are going to kill themselves over this.”

The DEFIANCE Act

In response, AOC is leading efforts in the House of Representatives to pass new legislation titled the Disrupt Explicit Forged Images and Non-Consensual Edits (DEFIANCE) Act of 2024. The proposed law would enable victims to pursue legal action against those who produce, publish, or consume non-consensual AI-generated pornographic content depicting them.

Public Weighs In

News of Ocasio-Cortez’s traumatic experience prompted a range of reactions across social media platforms:

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“No doubt. I imagine it would be traumatic for anyone to see themselves in such a manner,” one X user commented, expressing empathy.

“I don’t think highly of AOC but deep faking people into porn is disgusting,” wrote another, separating personal politics from the unethical nature of deepfake exploitation.

“No one deserves to be treated like that regardless of their politics,” a third user affirmed.

“I don’t like her, but nobody deserves that,” echoed yet another voice, rejecting partisan divisions in recognizing the human dignity violation.

The distressing incident has elevated an important conversation about establishing legal guardrails and ethical norms to protect people’s identities and psychological wellbeing in an era of rapidly evolving synthetic media technologies.

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Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee
Mezhar Alee is a prolific author who provides commentary and analysis on business, finance, politics, sports, and current events on his website Opportuneist. With over a decade of experience in journalism and blogging, Mezhar aims to deliver well-researched insights and thought-provoking perspectives on important local and global issues in society.

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