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AI-generated face

Facebook announced a ban on deepfake videos, on the heels of a crackdown on counterfeit profiles that used AI-generated faces.

What’s new: Facebook declared this week that it will remove deepfake videos it deems deliberately misleading. In December, the company took down hundreds of profiles that included AI-generated portraits of nonexistent people.

How it worked: Facebook’s security team determined that 610 Facebook accounts, 89 pages, 156 groups, and 72 Instagram accounts related to a pro-Donald Trump, anti-Chinese government website were fakes. The accounts used AI-generated faces more extensively than experts had seen before, according to CNN.

  • Security researchers spotted the deepfakes based on improbable biology — an oddly-angled neck, mismatched skin tones — or muddled background imagery, as illustrated above. They also looked for telltale asymmetries in features such as glasses and earrings.
  • Researchers did not determine the sources of the images. Several websites distribute deepfake portraits, and they are becoming easier to generate from scratch. Deepfaked faces are even being used to populate dating apps.
  • The accounts were connected to the Beauty of Life Group, which is linked to the publisher Epoch Media Group, according to the fact-check website Snopes.
  • Collectively, the pages had 55 million followers and spent $9.5 million on ads.

Behind the news: Facebook along with Amazon, Microsoft, and the Partnership on AI are running a Deepfake Challenge to spur development of technology to detect such images. Meanwhile, Google has contributed a collection of deepfakes to the FaceForensics benchmark.

Why it matters: Disinformation spread by social media played a role in recent elections from the UK’s Brexit referendum to contests in the U.S. and Philippines. It can look more credible when it’s distributed by a manufactured persona. While faces copied from, say, stock-photo databases can be discovered, deepfaked faces are more difficult to invalidate. That makes deepfakes especially pernicious in this context.

We’re thinking: It’s good to see Facebook taking proactive steps to purge generated media in what promises to be a long, uphill battle.


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