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Facebook Targets ‘Deepfakes’ Before 2020 Election

While Facebook has announced a plan to ban most deepfake videos to stem misinformation campaigns related to the 2020 presidential election, not all manipulated media will be prevented under the policy.

by Jessica Schladebeck, New York Daily News / January 8, 2020

(TNS) — Facebook has announced its plans to ban most “deepfake” videos in a bid to squash misinformation campaigns leading up to the 2020 presidential election — but not all purposefully manipulated media will get the boot under its new policy.

The social network in a blog post late Monday night revealed it is enhancing its standards regarding deceptively altered videos, which could fool the average viewer into thinking the clip’s subject said something he or she did not. Because most of the content in question is developed by artificial intelligence or machine learning — which combine and replace images in any media – it can be nearly impossible for people to tell when they are being duped.

“While these videos are still rare on the internet, they present a significant challenge for our industry and society as their use increases,” Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, Monika Bickert said.

According to Facebook’s guidelines, a clip will not be allowed if it “has been edited or synthesized — beyond adjustments for clarity or quality — in ways that aren’t apparent to an average person and would likely mislead someone into thinking that a subject of the video said words that they did not actually say.”

Videos and other content will also be prohibited if “the product of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merges, replaces or superimposes content onto a video, making it appear to be authentic.”

Deepfake videos and images recently started cropping up online, many of them funny like the one that swaps out Amy Adam’s face for Nicholas Cage’s or another that puts actor Steve Buscemi’s mug on Jennifer Lawrence’s glamorously dressed body.

Discussion surrounding such content online reached a boiling point last summer after misleading videos featuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Facebook’s own CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared online.

The altered video of Pelosi went viral across social media platforms shortly after it was tweeted out by President Trump in May. Its heavy edits appear to show the California Democrat incoherent and slurring her speech at an event held by the Center for American People.

Facebook at the time said the manipulated clip did not violate its guidelines — and that appears to still be true under the new rule as well.

“This policy does not extend to content that is parody or satire, or video that has been edited solely to omit or change the order of words,” according to Monday’s blog post.

That means the satirical deepfake of Zuckerberg, which uses technology to make the billionaire appear to gloat about his wealth, is also still safe on the social media platform.

Facebook also noted it intends to work with government officials, scholars and other tech companies to target manipulated media content and those creating it. The social media company added that it was additionally working with experts that will make it easier to spot deceptively edited content.

©2020 New York Daily News. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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