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Facebook says it won’t remove deepfake video of Zuckerberg after copping flak for doctored Pelosi clips

Facebook will not remove a deepfake video of Mark Zuckerberg that was uploaded to Instagram earlier this week, The Verge reports. In doing so, Facebook will follow the same policy it applied to a doctored video of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that went viral in May. According to the Verge, the company would treat the Zuckerberg video the same way it treats 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.” The Zuckerberg deepfake is the work of artists Bill Posters and Daniel Howe in partnership with advertising firm Canny, as per Motherboard. It shows Zuckerberg sitting at a desk, seemingly giving a sinister speech about Facebook’s power: “Imagine this for a second: One man, with total control of billions of people’s stolen data, all their secrets, their lives, their futures,” it continues, ”I owe it all to Spectre. Spectre showed me that whoever controls the data, controls the future.” The original clip is from a 2017 video of Zuckerberg describing Russian interference on Facebook.


Criticism over Pelosi video

In May, Facebook was criticised for not removing a doctored clip of Pelosi – which was edited to make her appear drunk – after it went viral on the platform, the Motherboard report said. The video was one of many that were circulated across social networks in an apparent attempt to discredit and embarrass her. It is not known who made them. One of the clips, shared by President Donald Trump on Twitter, made Pelosi appear confused or even ill. At the time, Facebook added disclaimers and pointed users to resources debunking the clip, but refused to remove it. Soon after, Facebook’s director of public policy Neil Potts had told Congress that the company would follow the same policy if a deepfaked video of Zuckerberg appeared on one of its platforms.

Facebook’s policy on false news

Facebook doesn’t have a rule that requires content posted on the site to be true. Its community standards state: “There is a fine line between false news and satire or opinion. For these reasons, we don’t remove false news from Facebook, but instead significantly reduce its distribution by showing it lower in the News Feed.” The company has also taken down fake accounts for “inauthentic behaviour” – that is, misleading users about who they were and what they were doing.

Facebook’s double standards?

Facebook decided to leave the Zuckerberg deepfake up to avoid allegations that rules that applied to other Facebook users didn’t apply to him and others in the company. But in March, days before Zuckerberg was scheduled to appear before the US Senate, years worth of his Facebook posts mysteriously disappeared, obscuring details about core moments in Facebook’s history, per a Business Insider report. These included all the posts he made in 2007 and 2008. A Facebook spokesperson told the publication that the posts were “mistakenly deleted” due to “technical errors.” And a year ago, TechCrunch reported that the company had removed messages sent by Zuckerberg and other executives to other users from their inboxes – something ordinary users can’t do. It said three sources had confirmed that old Facebook messages they received from Zuckerberg had disappeared from their inboxes, while their own replies to him remained. At the time, Facebook claimed this was done for”corporate security”.

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