Commentary

Twitter Drafts Policy To Battle Deepfakes

As part of a broader assault on false and misleading content, Twitter just unveiled the first draft of its new deepfake-fighting policy.

Also referred to as “shallowfakes,” deepfakes typically take the form of digital video or images, which feature someone’s face superimposed onto another person’s body. Thanks to advances in computer technology and artificial intelligence, the practice has become increasingly common and convincing.

Among other potential abuses, deepfakes can be used to harm someone’s reputation, mislead the public, and generally put people in the least flattering light.    

Recognizing the threat that deepfakes pose to individuals, institutions, and public discourse, Twitter recently announced a war on what it called “synthetic and manipulated media.”

Per its new policy, Twitter is now reserving the right to place a notice next to tweets that share synthetic or manipulated media, as well as warn people before they share or like such tweets.

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Twitter also plans to begin offering links -- to news articles or Twitter Moments, for example -- to encourage users to read more about why various sources believe the media they are sharing is synthetic or manipulated.

Additionally, if Twitter determines that a tweet including a deepfake is misleading or might threaten someone’s physical safety or lead to other serious harm, the company can now remove it entirely.

Hardly written in stone, the new policy remains a work in progress, according Del Harvey, vice president of trust and safety at Twitter.

“We want to hear from you,” Harvey said in a new note to users.

In addition to user feedback, Harvey and her team are also inviting third-party developers to help create solutions to better detect deepfakes.

More broadly, social giants like Facebook and Twitter are being forced take a stance on the validity of false and misleading content, and their roles as content moderators.

Facebook has maintained since 2016 that questionable or downright false content spread by politicians is acceptable due to its “newsworthiness.”

In response, it was recently revealed that hundreds of Facebook workers were calling on the company to reconsider its lenient content policy.

Taking a very different approach, Twitter recently decided to stop running political ads altogether.
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