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Reddit bans impersonation content, including deepfakes

Reddit updated its policies on Thursday to ban impersonation on its platform. The ban encompasses everything from deepfakes to individuals making false claims about their identities. 

In a post about the ban, a Reddit admin explains that even though instances of impersonation are rare, they pose a threat if people impersonate a journalist or a politician, or fake domains representing as something else. The post attributes the changes to ensuring “appropriate rules and processes” ahead of the 2020 election. 

“This not only includes using a Reddit account to impersonate someone, but also encompasses things such as domains that mimic others, as well as deepfakes or other manipulated content presented to mislead, or falsely attributed to an individual or entity. While we permit satire and parody, we will always take into account the context of any particular content,” Reddit’s new policy reads. 

The policy also asks for the help of the Reddit community to report any kind of impersonation, whether they are being impersonated themselves or find impersonation content. 

A Reddit spokesperson told Digital Trends, “We will continue to evaluate and evolve the policies, technology, and teams we have in place to protect the integrity of our site and will remain transparent with our community on these issues.”

Reddit clarifies in its post that the ban doesn’t necessarily apply to all deepfakes, just ones that mislead in a malicious way, since not all deepfakes are bad (Ryan Reynolds as Willy Wonka, anyone?). 

However, deepfakes have the potential to pose a threat to society if used maliciously. There have already been issues with deepfakes purporting to show famous people saying something they never actually said, including one of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg proclaiming his power over “millions of people’s stolen data.” Experts say that the technology is advancing quickly, and deepfakes will only get more convincing (and easier to create) over the next few years.

Reddit’s new policy updates follow Facebook’s decision to ban deepfake videos earlier this week. Just like Reddit, Facebook’s deepfake ban doesn’t include satire or parodies, which might prove to be more difficult to enforce on the social media platform rather than on Reddit’s forum space. 

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