Fake video of Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg stays on Instagram

Daniel Fowler
June 12, 2019

Asked whether a doctored video of Zuckerberg would get the same treatment as the manipulated Pelosi video, Neil Potts, Facebook's director of public policy, told a parliamentary hearing in Canada last month, "If it was the same video, inserting Mr. Zuckerberg for Speaker Pelosi, it would get the same treatment".

A short clip posted on Instagram, a platform owned by Facebook, supposedly shows Zuckerberg speaking directly into the camera and boasting of his company's supposed control of people's data. It features a deepfake made by artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe, in collaboration with the ad company Canny AI.

The video starts off with Zuckerberg saying, "Imagine this for a second: One man, with total control of billions of people's stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures".

He later adds, "Whoever controls the data, controls the future".

The Pelosi video was not a deepfake like the new Zuckerberg clip, but was manipulated using traditional video editing techniques.

"We will treat this content the same way we treat all misinformation on Instagram", said a spokesperson for the photo sharing site.

The clip uses similar technology to the deepfake clips which surfaced on pornography sites previous year, which use artificial intelligence (AI) to edit the faces of female celebrities onto the bodies of porn actors.

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"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", a Facebook spokesperson said in May. Spectre, referenced in the video, is an art exhibit that took place at the Sheffield Doc Fest in the UK.

The Zuckerberg video, which was first reported by Vice, comes as the US Congress prepares to hold its first hearing on the potential threats posed by deepfake videos.

The video was posted four days ago and has almost 2,000 views at the time of this writing. The experts at Canny trained the algorithm on the original, real 2017 clip and voice actors, and then reconstructed the original video using Zuckerberg's real movements and an actor's.

Omer Ben-Ami, co-founder of Canny AI, told The Post his company chose to partner with the artists because "it's our responsibility to expose people to what they can achieve with the tech". Plus, they used several videos of the voice actor for training.

This goes to show how easy it is to create deepfakes. This whole video did not happen -it was doctored. The video, which was slowed to make it appear as if Pelosi were drunk and slurring her words, was shared by Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

Facebook said it has fully cooperated with the FTC investigation till date and provided tens of thousands of documents, emails and files. Upon closer examination, it was revealed that the video had been subtly altered to make Acosta's actions seem more exaggerated.

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