Congress is investigating deepfakes after an altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went viral on Facebook, according to a CNN report.
The video was uploaded on May 23 and appeared to be Pelosi drunkenly slurring her words. At that time, Facebook refused to take down the false clip.
Mysteriously, the Pelosi videos disappeared, but Facebook denied removing them. By the time they were taken down, one of the videos had been viewed over 1.4 million times and shared over 30,000 times.
In response to Facebook not taking the false media down, Pelosi slammed Facebook in an interview with KQED News.
She said: “We have said all along, poor Facebook, they were unwittingly exploited by the Russians. I think wittingly, because right now they are putting up something that they know is false. I think it’s wrong… I think they have proven — by not taking down something they know is false — that they were willing enablers of the Russian interference in our election.”
The reason why Congress is so concerned — other than that it is false content about Pelosi — is that the deepfake technology had many viewers fooled into believing that Pelosi was actually drunk and slurring.
Deepfakes are “video forgeries” that manipulate visual and audio data in order to make people look like they are doing and saying things they have not done or said. Deepfakes can manipulate videos to the point where viewers may not honestly be able to tell when what they’re watching is real or not.
Many people are concerned about what deepfakes could do during elections.
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) noted that fake news campaigns may escalate for the 2020 presidential race thanks to deepfakes.
For example, Schiff notes that “the most severe escalation might be the introduction of a deepfake — a video of one of the candidates saying something they never said.”