Facebook made headlines recently when it declined to remove a video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that was altered to make her voice sound like she was intoxicated, choosing instead to “de-prioritize” the misleading video, and post it alongside third-party fact checker content. Now, a fake video of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been created and uploaded to Facebook-owned Instagram, putting the policy to the test.
According to Motherboard, the video was created by artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe, working with advertising company Canny, using a type of video dialogue replacement (VDR) technology that Canny developed. The videos created by this type of technology are sometimes referred to as “deepfake” videos, because they adapt real footage combined with faked dialogue in order to fool the viewer.
The video, still viewable directly on Instagram at the time this article was written, features Zuckerberg sitting at a desk speaking about Facebook’s power and control over users’ data, as chyrons that say “We’re increasing transparency on ads” are displayed on the screen. The chyrons and professional-looking set up of the video, plus Zuckerberg’s recognizable face, make the video seem official at first glance.
The video footage was originally pulled from comments Zuckerberg made in September 2017 about Russian election interference on Facebook. The deepfake video shows Zuckerberg bragging about being “one man, with total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures.”
It’s sinister and creepy, and completely fake — but in a way that directly hits at many people’s fears about Facebook and how they manage the immense amount of private user data they gather.
When the controversy erupted over the altered Pelosi video, Facebook director of public policy Neil Potts had said that they would treat a similarly doctored video of Zuckerberg, they would treat it in the same manner: allow the video to remain posted, but minimize its promotion and provide fact checking context.
So far, the Zuckerberg video remains up, the original along with several repostings by other accounts. An Instagram spokesperson told Motherboard that the video would be treated “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.”
I was able to find the video and several reposts of it by searching directly for some of the hashtags in the original video caption, and there is no warning label directly on the original post by the Bill Posters account.
This video directly included several labels indicating it was not accurate content, including #deepfake, so it’s arguably not as misleading as the Pelosi video, which was presented as an accurate rendering of her speech. Facebook’s willingness to tolerate deepfake videos may not be as lenient if future misrepresentations of their founder are not so clearly labeled as fake.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.