Adam Forman Quoted in “Keeping It Real: What HR Leaders Need to Know About Deepfakes”

HR Dive

Adam S. Forman, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s Detroit and Chicago offices, was quoted in HR Dive, in “Keeping It Real: What HR Leaders Need to Know About Deepfakes,” by Pamela DeLoatch.

Following is an excerpt:

Blame Forrest Gump. The 1994 movie used new technology to edit Gump’s character into scenes to make it seem like he talked with John F. Kennedy or sat next to John Lennon — an editing magician’s trick that won the film accolades.

That technology has evolved into what is now referred to as “deepfake” technology: a mix of AI and machine learning that allows users to alter videos, audios, and photos in powerful ways.

One deepfake example: A widely-shared video of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that was doctored to slow down the speed of her speech, creating the impression Pelosi was impaired. Deepfakes can make it seem that someone is saying something or doing something they may never have — and that can create a new kind of security woe for employers of all types. …

Deepfakes can hurt employees at any level, Adam Forman, a labor and employment attorney at Epstein Becker Green, told HR Dive. “One of the main things that has started happening is the deepfake videos are being weaponized disproportionately against women,” he said. “People in the workplace will place a coworker’s face on an adult film star’s body,” he said — similar to what happened to actress Scarlett Johansson. Inappropriate conduct concerning men and women in the workplace is not new, Forman said, but the new technology provides additional ways to behave badly. …

For HR leaders, deepfakes could lead to tricky situations, Forman said. What happens if an employee finds an altered photo or video of them on social media that uses their company ID or picture? What obligation does the organization have to investigate? “It’s becoming more difficult. You have workplace morale issues, compliance issues with your policy and procedures that all jump up because of deepfakes,” he said. 

Guarding against deepfakes

HR leaders are used to discerning fake information, from exaggerations on a resume to doctored emails, but as technology improves, it becomes more challenging to anticipate potential issues. While HR is not expected to analyze media for alterations, leaders can take steps to protect employees and the company from being manipulated by deepfakes.

Review company technology policies, said Forman. New technologies up the ante for the workplace and the employer and employee relationships because of the increased risk for misconduct, he said. An employer may want to take an existing policy regarding anti-harassment, anti-retaliation, and anti-discrimination, and make sure the guidelines address the new technology, he added.

Companies should decide how they would respond if a deepfake incident occurred, Forman advised. Although there may be no one right or wrong answer, being prepared to react to the threat is necessary.