Will this deepfake of a power-hungry Zuckerberg make Facebook rethink fake news?

A video of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg proclaiming his power over “millions of people’s stolen data” as the billionaire stoically gestures on camera is garnering tens of thousands of views on Instagram. The problem? The video is generated entirely by artificial intelligence — and the real Zuckerberg had nothing to do with the video or the words it contains.

Deepfake videos circulating on social media are nothing new — the most famous was a recent fake of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that reached viral acclaim on Facebook. But a video featuring the Facebook giant himself has users wondering if the social media company will stick to previous statements about leaving the fake A.I.-generated videos in place.

So far, the video — which is marked by #deepfake if you read through the entire list of hashtags — has remained live on the platform for four days, without being removed by the company that the video bashes. Reposts of the video are even still showing up in hashtag searches.

In previous statements, both Instagram and Facebook have taken a reduce, but not remove stance on fake videos. Facebook, for example, will demote fake videos lower in the news feed while Instagram will leave any such videos off of the hashtag pages and Explore section. Instagram is testing a feature that adds links to fact-checking resources, a feature that Facebook already has. Both use third-party fact-checkers to determine what content qualifies as fake news. So far, Facebook hasn’t changed that stance to benefit its own founder and the video remains intact. Views on the video doubled on Wednesday to more than 60,000.

“We will treat this content the same way we treat all misinformation on Instagram,” an Instagram representative told Digital Trends. “If third-party fact-checkers mark it as false, we will filter it from Instagram’s recommendation surfaces like Explore and hashtag pages.”

The misinformation may not be the only reason to remove the video, however. The video uses a news station header, including the CBSN logo. CBS is pushing for the removal of the video for the unauthorized use of their logo. “CBS has requested that Facebook take down this fake, unauthorized use of the CBSN trademark,” a CBS spokesperson said.

The video was created using CannyAI software and earlier footage of Zuckerberg, captured in 2017 and originally discussing election interference. The project, put together by Bill Posters and Daniel Howe, was created with advertising company Canny as a stunt to show off the CannyAI software and potential future of artificial video. 

The software uses A.I. algorithms to manipulate a speaker’s mouth movements by studying footage from an existing video. The result is a video that’s different from the original, with the speaker’s expression appearing to match the voice. As evidenced by the video, however, the software doesn’t imitate the speaker’s voice, clueing in viewers familiar with Zuckerberg’s speeches that the video isn’t legit.

While Facebook has so far left the deepfake intact, the video also serves as another reminder that videos, like photos, can be easily manipulated and masqueraded as the real thing.

Updated on June 12, 2019: Added official statements from Instagram and CBS.

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