Doctored clip shows Facebook CEO championing ‘stolen data’

Artists are challenging Facebook’s policy of refusing to take down videos which have been manipulated to misrepresent their subjects by creating one about Mark Zuckerberg.

The stunt follows criticism of Facebook for refusing to remove a video of US Democratic politician Nancy Pelosi, a prominent critic of President Donald Trump, which had been slowed down to make her appear inebriated.

Artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe, working with an advertising company, created the video featuring Facebook’s founder and chief executive giving a speech about his desire to control the world’s data.

The so-called “deepfake” speech features the Facebook founder appearing to revel in knowing social media users’ “secrets” before thanking the artists behind the clip.

“Imagine this for a second: One man, with total control of billions of people’s stolen data,” Mr Zuckerberg appears to say.

“All their secrets, their lives, their futures. I owe it all to Spectre. Spectre showed me that whoever controls the data, controls the future.”

As in many manipulated videos which use artificial intelligence software to manipulate the frames of an existing video to change someone’s appearance, there are strange movements around Mr Zuckerberg’s mouth which give the game away.

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Journalists who check the origin of such footage can see that it is a doctored version of a speech which Mr Zuckerberg gave in September 2017, fittingly about manipulation on Facebook during the US presidential election.

The video was created, alongside others featuring Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump, by advertising company CannyAI’s video dialogue replacement (VDR) technology for an exhibition in Sheffield.

Although it is possible to detect the VDR technology in the clip of Mark Zuckerberg, the Kim Kardashian clip is exceptionally convincing.

The sophistication of the technology is expected to improve with time which has prompted concerns that it will be used to spread fake news and disinformation.

At the time Ms Pelosi’s altered video was spreading online – amplified by a tweet from Donald Trump – critics noted that Facebook was alone among social media companies refusing to take it down.

Instead the company merely de-prioritised it so that it did not appear high in users’ news feeds, and was presented alongside information from third-party fact checkers.

Currently no such information appears alongside the Mark Zuckerberg video, but it may be coming if the video gains traction.

A spokesperson for Instagram told Sky News they would not be removing the video.

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

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