Two British artists created this deepfake of Mark Zuckerberg as well as many celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump for an art exhibition called Spectre at Sheffield Doc Fest in the UK.
Last month, Facebook did not delete an edited video featuring Nancy Pelosi from YouTube; its decision this time will put its policies around how it handles manipulated content to the test.
What is a deepfake?
Deepfakes are digital manipulations created with artificial intelligence to impersonate another person by replicating their voice, appearance or personality. Deepfakes have been employed extensively in Hollywood movies, video games and as satire and parody pieces since 2017. Reddit users first coined this term in 2017.
Fake videos have long been used for entertainment, but their sophistication has only increased with technology developed for lip-syncing for motion capture and artificial intelligence (AI). A deepfake often employs GANs – two algorithms competing against each other with one generating synthetic images while the other detects those which resemble faces; then both use feedback loops to improve performance.
Deepfakes technology may still be developing, yet its use for illicit purposes has already proven its worth. Deepfakes have been employed to produce pornography without consent and influence political events such as Nancy Pelosi’s campaign appearance in California or fraudulent activities by impersonating people to steal personally identifiable information or gain entry to company accounts.
Deepfakes raise concerns of being used to influence events on a national scale, including spreading false news about world leaders or inciting violence through satellite images depicting troops massing on borders. Some social media companies have banned deepfakes which mislead viewers; however, others are working on detection technology.
How did it get made?
An Instagram video featuring computer-generated image of Mark Zuckerberg combined with footage from an event last year featuring real Zuckerberg speaking has gone viral, being watched over 36,000 times and shared. Furthermore, it has also trended on Twitter and YouTube.
Bill Posters of Sheffield, UK created the video as part of a project called Spectre that seeks to increase awareness about how technology can be used to manipulate users and the public; specifically criticizing tech firms in light of scandals like Cambridge Analytica as well as privacy concerns.
Posters collaborated with Canny AI, which develops software to detect faces in videos and identify them automatically. One of its cofounders, Omer Ben-Ami, told CNN Business that its Zuckerberg video and several others it created depicting Kim Kardashian and US President Donald Trump were “art” that should remain on display.
Deepfakes will become increasingly prevalent, and the algorithms powering them are expected to continually adapt and advance. Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives tells The Washington Post: “This is just the start of pushing this kind of content through.”
Why is it fake?
Instagram recently saw the release of a video with fake Mark Zuckerberg speaking words he never actually said, which puts Facebook’s misinformation policies to the test. This video was produced by two artists and an advertising company for an art exhibit called Spectre (an apparent nod to James Bond villainous organization Spectre).
Digitally altered clip of an altered Zuckerberg giving an intimidating speech about Facebook’s power went viral within hours and discussions about it trended on Twitter early Tuesday morning.
It’s an impressive demonstration of just how easy it can be to create videos like these with text-to-speech technology, which enables anyone to “put words in anyone’s mouth”. But it also highlights the difficulty in detecting fakes – an endeavor even experts concede is extremely challenging.
Last month, Facebook came under scrutiny for refusing to remove an edited and doctored video of Nancy Pelosi that appeared drunk or impaired. Facebook Director of Public Policy Neil Potts informed Congress that this video of Zuckerberg would also remain on Facebook; rather it would be flagged as false and downranked so it appears less often in people’s feeds.
What do we know about it?
Mark Zuckerberg is a social media billionaire with a mission to connect the world. According to Forbes, he ranks fifth-richest among United States residents and registered organ donor. Additionally, he strongly advocates for education – even dropping out for several years but eventually returning and graduating in 2017.
Facebook and Instagram both removed a doctored video featuring Mark Zuckerberg after it was discovered to be false, yet Bill Posters’ Spectre installation wasn’t intended as disinformation; rather, it critiqued tech giants’ control over what users see on their platforms.
Posters intended for his fake Zuckerberg video to demonstrate how easily people can distort information online; instead, its success may have had the opposite effect: many viewers believed that it was official Facebook material.
Zuckerberg can be seen bobbing back and forth like a circus chimp on an electric hydrofoil in this clip from Meta’s virtual-reality headset; however, this video series also includes interviews with Joe Rogan and twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who continue their fight for equal ownership of Facebook.