Mark Zuckerberg talks privacy and regulation

Stephen Lam  Reuters

Stephen Lam Reuters

Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook might start treating deep fakes - photos and videos doctored with artificial intelligence - differently than misinformation or fake news, making it easier for the company to take them down.

He said Facebook's new policy states that "anyone who wants to run political ads or issue ads or a page that gets a lot of distribution needs to verify their identity with us with a valid government ID".

Facebook's policy on how to handle false content was put to the test recently when a deepfake video of Mr Zuckerberg was created.

Speaking at the Aspen Ideas festival in Colorado, Zuckerberg said Facebook and other social networks will face the challenge of coping with network counterfeits as they step up their efforts to eliminate disinformation and the company is still evaluating what to do.

He said Facebook is still developing policy for deep fakes, like the recent video that showed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi purportedly slurring her speech. Facebook has long held that it should not decide what is and isn't true, leaving such calls instead to outside fact-checkers. Twitter also kept it, while YouTube removed it. No such luck. If you watch Zuck's lengthy answers to questions from Harvard Prof.

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Zuckerberg conceded that company fact-checkers were slow to respond and flag it.

During the time it took for Facebook's systems to flag the video as false, Zuckerberg explained, the video became more widely distributed than Facebook's policies should have allowed. "With these tools, regulators are now better positioned to consider how to protect elections with sensible regulations, which they are uniquely suited to do", Facebook said.

"This is a topic that can be very easily politicized", he said. "But we exist in a society ... where we value and cherish free expression". While some videos are purposefully altered to twist the truth and to misinform, other videos that are edited for journalistic purposes could be at risk of being deemed deep fakes. "I think it would be over reach to say, 'Hey, you can't say something that's not correct to your friends, '" said Zuckerberg.

"If you're just hiding things that are rumors, how are people going to refute them?"

He also said the leading social network is struggling to find ways to deal with "deepfake" videos which have the potential to deceive and manipulate users on a massive scale. Facebook now is studying the matter, he said. Zuckerberg said Facebook is trying to determine whether deepfakes are "a completely different category" of misinformation and added, "there's a very good case that they are".

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