Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook is ‘evaluating’ its deepfake policy to ban hyper-realistic fake clips 

Facebook is evaluating how it will handle deepfake’ videos, the hyper-realistic hoax clips made by artificial intelligence and high-tech tools, Mark Zuckerberg said.

The tech firm’s CEO has suggested that it might make sense to handle such videos differently from other forms of misinformation, such as fake news.

His comments on the scourge of deepfakes come as he defends the decision of Facebook to keep the doctored clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi live on its site.  

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Facebook is evaluating how it will handle deepfake' videos, the hyper-realistic hoax clips made by artificial intelligence and high-tech tools, Mark Zuckerberg said. Pictured, a recent deepfake video that featured manipulated footage of Mr Zuckerberg himself

Facebook is evaluating how it will handle deepfake' videos, the hyper-realistic hoax clips made by artificial intelligence and high-tech tools, Mark Zuckerberg said. Pictured, a recent deepfake video that featured manipulated footage of Mr Zuckerberg himself

Facebook is evaluating how it will handle deepfake’ videos, the hyper-realistic hoax clips made by artificial intelligence and high-tech tools, Mark Zuckerberg said. Pictured, a recent deepfake video that featured manipulated footage of Mr Zuckerberg himself

WHAT IS A DEEPFAKE? 

Deepfakes are so named because they are made using deep learning, a form of artificial intelligence, to create fake videos of a target individual.

They are made by feeding a computer an algorithm, or set of instructions, as well as lots of images and audio of the target person.

The computer program then learns how to mimic the person’s facial expressions, mannerisms, voice and inflections.

With enough video and audio of someone, you can combine a fake video of a person with fake audio and get them to say anything you want.

Facebook has long held that it should not be arbitrating between what is and is not true, placing such judgements instead in the hands of external fact-checkers.

Despite this, Mr Zuckerberg now says it is worth asking whether deepfakes are in a ‘completely different category’ from regular false statements. 

Developing a policy on these videos is ‘really important’ as AI technology grows more sophisticated, he concluded. 

Mark Zuckerberg made the comments during an interview at the the Aspen Ideas Festival, in Colorado, on June 26, 2019.

Facebook, like other social media companies, does not have a specific policy against deepfakes, whose potential threat has emerged only in the last couple of years. 

Company executives have said in the past that it makes sense to look at deepfakes under the broader umbrella of false or misleading information. 

However, Mr Zuckerberg is signalling that this view might be changing, opening up the possibility that Facebook might move to ban deepfakes altogether.

Implementing such a policy, however, has the potential to be challenging. 

One risk comes from the potential for art, satire and political dissent to be accidentally swept up by any overly-broad censorship policy.

Such an outcome could lead to public relations headaches for the Menlo Park, California-based social media firm.

Alongside this, there is also the potential for other false videos — those made without the use of deep-learning artificial intelligence systems — to still get a pass under any new policy. 

For instance, the recent altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that made her sound like she was slurring her words does not meet the definition of a deepfake and remained on the site.

In fact Facebook had refused to take down that deepfake of Mrs Pelosi, instead opting to ‘downrank’ the video in an effort to minimise its spread.

The video, of Pelosi’s speech at a Center for American Progress event, was subtly edited to make her voice sound garbled and slowed down, as if she was under the influence of alcohol. 

She was speaking at the time about Donald Trump’s refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations, which she said was tantamount to a ‘cover-up.’

One version of the video posted on the conservative Facebook page Politics WatchDog, was viewed more than 2 million times and has been shared almost 50,000 times.

On Friday, Pelosi’s daughter hit out at Republicans and their supporters for sharing the doctored video of her mother, claiming that she doesn’t even drink.

Christine Pelosi tweeted: ‘Republicans and their conservative allies have been pumping this despicable fake meme for years! Now they are caught. #Factcheck. Madam Speaker doesn’t even drink alcohol!’ 

Facebook has refused to take down a video of Nancy Pelosi, (pictured), which was doctored to make her appear drunk and has been widely shared on social media

Facebook has refused to take down a video of Nancy Pelosi, (pictured), which was doctored to make her appear drunk and has been widely shared on social media

Facebook has refused to take down a video of Nancy Pelosi, (pictured), which was doctored to make her appear drunk and has been widely shared on social media

The footage received 23,000 comments and social media users questioned whether she was ‘drunk’ and called her ‘a babbling mess.’

A spokesperson for Facebook said:  ‘There’s a tension here: we work hard to find the right balance between encouraging free expression and promoting a safe and authentic community, and we believe that reducing the distribution of inauthentic content strikes that balance.’

‘But just because something is allowed to be on Facebook doesn’t mean it should get distribution,’ he added.

‘In other words, we allow people to post it as a form of expression, but we’re not going to show it at the top of News Feed.’

Instagram similarly elected not to remove posts of a deepfaked video of Mr Zuckerberg himself, which appeared to show the CEO claiming to control the future thanks to stolen data.

The video created by Bill Posters and Daniel Howe in partnership with advertising company Canny is hashtagged ‘#deepfake,’ a term that refers to video or audio with virtually undetectable edits made to portray something very different than the original media source.

In the edited video which also includes a CBSN logo, Zuckerberg is made to appear to say, ‘Imagine this for a second: One man, with total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures. 

‘I owe it all to Spectre. Spectre showed me that whoever controls the data, controls the future,’ the fake video continued.

An Instagram spokesperson had told DailyMail.com that they would ‘treat this content the same way we treat all misinformation on Instagram.’ 

‘If third-party fact-checkers mark it as false, we will filter it from Instagram’s recommendation surfaces like Explore and hashtag pages,’ they added.

A spokesperson for CBS, however, told DailyMail.com that ‘CBS has requested that Facebook take down this fake, unauthorised use of the CBSN trademark.’

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