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Engaging with deepfakes: a meta-synthesis from the perspective of social shaping of technology theory

Pramukh Nanjundaswamy Vasist (Information Systems Area, Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode, India)
Satish Krishnan (Information Systems Area, Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode, India)

Internet Research

ISSN: 1066-2243

Article publication date: 7 November 2022




This study aims to establish a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies of how individuals engage with deepfakes, focusing on limiting adverse effects and capitalizing on their benefits.


This study conducted a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies on deepfakes, incorporating study-specific analysis followed by a cross-study synthesis.


Based on the meta-synthesis, the study developed an integrated conceptual framework based on the perspectives from the social shaping of technology theory embedding deepfake-related assertions, motivations, the subtleties of digital platforms, and deepfake-related repercussions.

Research limitations/implications

The study offers crucial insights into the evolving nature of deepfakes as a socio-technical phenomenon and the significance of platform dynamics in deepfake production. It enables researchers to comprehend the cascading effects of deepfakes and positions them to evaluate deepfake-related risks and associated mitigation mechanisms.

Practical implications

The framework that emerges from the study illustrates the influence of platforms on the evolution of deepfakes and assists platform stakeholders in introducing effective platform governance structures to combat the relentless proliferation of deepfakes and their consequences, as well as providing guidance for governments and policymakers to collaborate with platform leaders to set guardrails for deepfake engagement.


Deepfakes have been extensively contested for both their beneficial and negative applications and have been accused of heralding an imminent epistemic threat that has been downplayed by some quarters. This diversity of viewpoints necessitates a comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon. In responding to this call, this is one of the first to establish a comprehensive, theoretically informed perspective on how individuals produce, process, and engage with deepfakes through a meta-synthesis of qualitative literature on deepfakes.



Satish Krishnan thanks the Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode’s Chair Associate Professorship for supporting this research.


Vasist, P.N. and Krishnan, S. (2022), "Engaging with deepfakes: a meta-synthesis from the perspective of social shaping of technology theory", Internet Research, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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