Police Scotland project aims to help school pupils spot 'deepfakes' and online scams

Initiative involves team behind scheme training young Scots to identify ‘fake news'

The team behind a “fake news” project is now working with Police Scotland to help in the battle against online scams and “deepfakes”.

Dr Yvonne Skipper, a senior lecturer in psychology at Glasgow University’s school of education, recently co-created a resource to help school pupils spot misinformation and disinformation online, called Project Real.

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The initiative is now moving onto new phases, including one in Miami, Florida, working with some US social media influencers, which will be focussed on extremism of youth and young people.

Online safety. Picture: Adobe StockOnline safety. Picture: Adobe Stock
Online safety. Picture: Adobe Stock

Closer to home, Dr Skipper said the team was involved in a project with the police, working collaboratively with them to create materials that can be used in their work in schools, particularly around “deepfake” videos, which use a form of artificial intelligence to make footage of fake events, as well as other resources to make young people aware of the way criminals can fool targets by pretending to be people they are not.

"The next phase is for us to work with different groups to create similar material but on things that are important to them,” the lecturer said.

"So we’re starting a project with Police Scotland where we are going to be looking particularly at ‘deepfakes’, and online scams and how you might spot these sorts of things, people pretending to be other people online. Some of the legal ramifications around it as well.

"We’re open to working with other organisations as well to create materials that are based in psychology and things we know that will work to help people develop their skills to recognise misinformation, but are also easy for teachers and youth leaders to implement and engaging for learners.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “The online world is an ever increasingly central part of everyone’s lives and in particular young people.

“Keeping young people safe online is a priority for Police Scotland and we work with a range of resources and partners to help educate people about potential risks when accessing the internet.”

The spokesperson added that for more information and resources relating to online safety, visit this section of the Police Scotland website: https://www.scotland.police.uk/advice-and-information/internet-safety/