Discussion: How Could Deepfakes Impact The 2020 US Elections?

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Video surfaces of The Rump, laughing it up with a bunch of Russian guys: “Voters are so fucking stupid I could feed them their own cocks. Put a little mustard and celery salt on it and and say here! Chicago style!” One of the laughing Russians adds, “in Mother Russia, hot dog eat YOU!”

This scenario is arguably not even all that deceptive, since there’s no doubt he feels that way and is vulgar enough to say so. It’s truthier than the actual shit he says, which is all lies and everyone knows it.

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I don’t know about the rest of you out here, but I am very, very worried about deepfake videos that make Trump appear reasonable, intelligent, compassionate and inquisitive.

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Jedi hive-mind tricks.

2020 is going to get really ugly. The potential for authentic looking videos made up out of nothing has been giving me nightmares for over a year. We already know that many people on the Republican side have no ethical boundaries and I fully expect this to become the election known as the first one to employ this technology on a large scale.

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We already got a Deepfake in November 2016.

No more, please…

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And that video would thoroughly convince his deplorable base that Dotard should be President forever…

This problem is giving experienced journalists and other concerned citizens nightmares. About all we can hope for is a balance of commonsense skepticism on both sides of an election cancelling out the effects. But in a country where commonsense voters supported Trump? Aaaarrrrggghhh!

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What about scenarios where Establishment Democrat “reporters” make up crazy stories about chairs being thrown, and then those fake stories get spread through the media as if they were genuine and true?

The chair-throwing claim was repeated across election coverage. In an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz repeated, in concert with video footage of a man holding a chair aloft, the refrain that Sanders supporters had been throwing chairs at the convention

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Scenario 7 - Pundits interpret it as evidence of trying to fix the debate by sharing questions with Biden’s staff beforehand.

The funny thing is this already happened, but it wasn’t fake. It was real. Donna Brazile DID “fix the debate by sharing questions”, got caught, and then was canned from CNN.

And now she’s on Fox News. How appropriate.

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Karl Rove did a pretty good job of this on Howard Dean way back when without all the techno advances. It’s the intent of the smear not the execution that is the problem.

The conservative rabble will jump on anything to advance their quest for bloodlust and punishment of others not worthy like themselves. I saw the Hunger Games.

I wouldn’t be surprised of anything Republicans would do with the help of that Russian butcher Putin to insure victory in 2020. They already threw Jesus under the bus. And they are prepared to live with constant flooding, #5 hurricanes, forest fires and the associated diseases that accompany them just to prove how great America can be when led by a barely functioning illiterate.like themselves. .

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It’s up to the media to police themselves and their counterparts. When a faked video surfaces, it should say in the headline the video is fake and the very beginning of the article should say that too. They also should not show the faked video unless there is a real video that was used as part of the deepfake and they must show both alongside each other. We’re only a few years off where deepfake-style video is going to be done in real time, it’s up to the media to educate, constantly, their readers in what (I hate to use this phrase) fake news is, how to identify it, and to provide the truth right up front.

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By coincidence I just finished reading about deception efforts in WW2. As clever – even brilliant – as they were, they were limited by the technology of the day: Morse, radio, hard copy false documents, double agents, feints. We’re going to be looking at unintended consequences in spades of today’s technology.

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Whether you know it or not these are similar to the suggestions made during WW2 to fight rumor, a very serious problem with the US public at the time. Some really toxic rumor would get out there and killing it was like fighting some terminally malignant tumor.

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I’m not familiar with WW2 era deceptions but it doesn’t seem surprising some of the same methods then would work now. Unfortunately info is dumped before it’s evaluated, the media has some control over that and we consumers need to be educated on how to do it so we can begin doing that ourselves. Without some sort of authenticity factor to video, posted comments, etc., it’s just going to get increasingly difficult to differentiate between a real human, a fake video, a bot, a paid troll, etc., and we may never know for sure, but in my view, each media outlets job is to educate their readers/viewers on being good skeptics and first and foremost in that is immediately quashing rumors and doing so repeatedly.

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Unlike other advanced economies, the US has not moved to curb some of the obviously bad effects of synthetic realities. For those who don’t own or understand new media technologies they may not realize they have been siloed or how they are manipulated. This is unlikely to change, however, as there is no appetite to move to a fairer voting system such as New Zealand’s and thereby deal with legislative and executive capture. Design matters: part of the the reason Nordic democracies are so strong and have low gini coefficients is the acceptance of multi-winner voting systems.

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In an ideal world, yes. Unfortunately, media outlets are mainly concerned with ratings, not truth or educating the public. It’s more about steering, distracting, misleading, and most importantly - keeping the public in a constant state of fear about “foreign enemies” while the .01% continue the looting out the back door.

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That helps with the news media side of the issue, but several of the scenarios involve people sharing a doctored video through social media, which would be much harder to control. If people go around spreading the “truth they don’t want you to see” through DMs and private posts, it may continue to percolate in certain subgroups and the general public wouldn’t be aware of this deception directly. We might only see people’s reaction to something fake, but no one outside the in-group would be aware of what is driving the misconception.

And if it is exposed and the original taken down, if it’s constantly being shared, copied and reuploaded, how are the social media companies going to get a handle on it, even if they were inclined to do so?

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Social media companies all have the ability to remove fake content shared on their private networks, they have complete and absolute control over what is shared and by whom. It’s definitely harder for networks like Facebook and Twitter to chase down that content once it’s posted and begins being shared, but they have an obligation to remove faked content and the users who promote it. It’s a matter of dedicating the resources to do it. Ultimately it will come down to education, but the news, social media and most important our political and business leaders need to be the ones leading on this, if they don’t there’s not much hope in the long-term.

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Of course, the scenarios here all address the use of deepfakes to subvert and deceive, but your statement made me think of the converse. What about the scenarios where a real video surfaces showing a politician in a compromising position and they immediately scream “Deepfake!”? The increasing ability for people to be able to create deepfakes means that it becomes easier for someone to jump on the bandwagon and claim anything that doesn’t show them in a positive light is fake.

What if the Romney campaign had insisted that his “47%” video was a deepfake? Would/should the social media companies be obligated to take that down if it was shared on their platform? How do we go about proving a video is real when anyone can claim it’s the deepfake (and they could even release a deepfake and claim that is the real version)?

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