Ahead of the US presidential election campaign Facebook has announced that the platform has banned deepfakes. For those who don’t know, deepfakes are manipulated photos and videos that cannot be differentiated as real or fake by common people. It was announced by Facebook in a blog post on Monday authored by Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of global policy management. The policy is right on time for the House Energy and Commerce hearing under the title, “Americans at risk: manipulation and deception in the digital age.”
The new set of rules is specifically tailored to target deepfakes created using machine learning and artificial neural networks. The Social media giant will start removing content that has been edited such that they don’t appear doctored to the average person since the media might mislead someone. The policy has an exception for content that has been manipulated for the sake of parody, satire, or videos that have been edited to change the order in which they appear or to remove a few words.
This ban comes as a result of an altered video of the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that went viral on Facebook in the summer of 2019. At that time, Facebook said that the video did not violate any of the company’s policies. Even now, the footage does not conflict with the policy since it was not created using AI but was edited using readily available software. Twitter was also caught amongst the whole situation, which is why it also started working on its policy against deepfakes in November.
In the blog post, Facebook explained its approach towards manipulated media by saying:
If we simply removed all manipulated videos flagged by fact-checkers as false, the videos would still be available elsewhere on the internet or social media ecosystem. By leaving them up and labeling them as false, we’re providing people with important information and context.