Twitter Announces New Rule against Deepfakes and Manipulated Content

  • The company will be enforcing a new rule that will apply as of March 5.
  • YouTube is taking a tougher stance on manipulated media.
  • Facebook has taken a nearly similar stance as Twitter.

Twitter has announced that it will now combat deepfakes more aggressively, especially those that look deceptively real and are created for manipulation purposes. The social media company stated on Tuesday that such videos are particularly explosive during election campaign times, and will in the future be either specially tagged or removed from the platform.

The company will be enforcing a new rule that will apply as of March 5, which states as follows.

“You may not deceptively share synthetic or manipulated media that are likely to cause harm. In addition, we may label Tweets containing synthetic and manipulated media to help people understand the media’s authenticity and to provide additional context.”

Deepfakes (a portmanteau of “deep learning” and “fake”) are synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness. While the act of faking content is a not new, deepfakes leverage powerful techniques from machine learning and artificial intelligence to manipulate or generate visual and audio content with a high potential to deceive.

The decision on whether a post is to be labeled or deleted will depend on its potential to cause harm. Basically, all media, including “cheapfakes” and “flat fakes,” will be subjected to this rule. Twitter manager Yoel Roth has underlined that the statutes will apply regardless of whether advanced machine learning technology or “a 99-cent app” was used to develop the content. The question is whether the tweet causes confusion or misunderstanding as an intentional attempt to mislead people.

There is growing concern about false information as the U.S. presidential election draws near. Social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter are currently under tremendous pressure to take action against disinformation campaigns. Critics have in the past accused the firms of doing little to combat fake news, especially during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign season.

On Monday, Google’s subsidiary, YouTube, announced that it will start deleting manipulated videos that are related to elections. The company provided the following rationale on why it was important to be vigilant during this time. This is while expounding on the reasons behind its strategy to rank certain news sources higher than others.

Twitter is a microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets”. Tweets were originally restricted to 140 characters, but on November 7, 2017, this limit was doubled to 280 for all languages except Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

“Political news and events can be subject to misinformation, so the availability of quality information sources is crucial. That’s why we raise up authoritative voices, including news sources, for news and information in search results and ‘watch next’ panels.”

Facebook has taken a nearly similar stance as Twitter. It will not be deleting deepfakes deemed to be satire or parody, only media that has been engineered to mislead or misinform.

Deepfake technology has evolved dramatically over the past few years and is now a potential threat to democracy. In 2018, a viral sex video depicting Brazilian gubernatorial candidate, Joao Doria, in an orgy with five women caused a stir. He denied involvement while dismissing the clip as a scandalous deepfake fabrication made by his political opponents to tarnish his image ahead of the elections, which were just days away.

In January, an edited video of former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden agreeing to the GOP-led Social Security benefits cut proposal went viral. He accused the Bernie Sanders’ campaign of using doctored footage to spread lies.

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Samuel Gush

Samuel Gush is a Technology, Entertainment, and Political News writer at Communal News.

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