Saturday 25 January 2020

Ahead of Irish and US elections, Facebook announces new measures against 'deepfake' videos

Facebook is taking new action against so-called ‘deepfake’ photos and videos
Photo: Reuters
Facebook is taking new action against so-called ‘deepfake’ photos and videos Photo: Reuters
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Facebook is taking new action against so-called ‘deepfake’ photos and videos in a bid to stop ‘bad actors’ from manipulating elections and public opinion.

The move, which comes in a US election year as well as a likely election in Ireland, will see the social networking giant impose new restrictions on Photoshop and other tools used to make alterations allowed to photos or videos.

“There are people who engage in media manipulation in order to mislead,” said Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president for global policy management.

“Manipulations can be made through simple technology like Photoshop or through sophisticated tools that use artificial intelligence or deep learning techniques to create videos that distort reality, usually called deepfakes.”

She said that the new measures, which include using both artificial intelligence and human adjudication, won’t apply to satire or parody or to “video that has been edited solely to omit or change the order of words”.

To fail the new test for images and videos, Facebook says it will remove content that has “been edited or synthesised, 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”.

Facebook is also cracking down on videos which are “the product of artificial intelligence or machine learning that merges, replaces or superimposes content onto a video, making it appear to be authentic”.

Facebook will still allow videos that have “false” information to remain up on the site, where they will be given less harsh treatment.

These videos “are still eligible for review by one of our independent third-party fact-checkers, which include over 50 partners worldwide fact-checking in over 40 languages,” said Ms Bickert. “If a photo or video is rated false or partly false by a fact-checker, we significantly reduce its distribution in News Feed and reject it if it’s being run as an ad. And critically, people who see it, try to share it, or have already shared it, will see warnings alerting them that it’s false.

“This approach is critical to our strategy and one we heard specifically from our conversations with experts. If we simply removed all manipulated videos flagged by fact-checkers as false, the videos would still be available elsewhere on the internet or social media ecosystem. By leaving them up and labelling them as false, we’re providing people with important information and context.”

Online Editors

Also in Business